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Editor who oversaw regional daily’s tabloid switch dies aged 79

Former Editor Les Gent in 1995 before retiring after spending more than 40 years at the newspaperAn editor who oversaw a regional daily’s transition from broadsheet to tabloid has died at the age of 79.

Les Gent, editor of the then Bolton Evening News from 1979 to 1986, died at the town’s Royal Bolton Hospital on Friday morning.

Les, pictured, joined the newspaper as a 17-year-old trainee and rose through the ranks to become editor in the course of a 48-year career in the industry.

Ian Savage, current editor of The Bolton News, said staff were “deeply saddened” by the news.

After retiring as editor, Les launched and produced the paper’s ‘Looking Back’ nostalgia column, which still features daily.

He also wrote about his time at the newspaper as part of a souvenir publication marking its 150th anniversary this year.

Les also wrote two local history books – Bolton Past and Making Headlines – as well as receiving an Honorary Fellowship at Bolton Institute in 1998 “in recognition of outstanding contribution to journalism and local history.”

He leaves a widow Barbara, to whom he was married for 48 years, and two children, Mark and Susan.

Said Ian: “Everyone is deeply saddened by the news. He was an excellent journalist, cared passionately about his home town of Bolton and supported his local newspaper to the end.

“In our 150th anniversary special publication he wrote a brilliant piece about his time with the newspaper and his pride at being involved in such a local institution shone through in his words.

“On a personal note, Les also supported me from the beginning of my career and I was lucky enough to work alongside him for a number of years before he retired.

“When I took over as editor in 2008, he wrote a lovely letter to me, with advice and support. It meant so much because he – like me – is one of the privileged few to have sat in the editor’s chair and he understood the challenges I would face.

“He was always on hand if I needed someone to talk to about the issues you face as a local newspaper editor.

“He will be sadly missed by a lot of people in Bolton.”


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  • July 10, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Les was such a kind and gentle soul with a great smile. I worked with him at Mealhouse Lane between 1969 and 1976 and your day was always better for being with him. My condolences to his family. He will be now in the great BEN newsroom in the sky!

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  • July 10, 2017 at 11:03 am

    So sad to read this news. Les was a fantastic boss, a true newspaper man and a good and loyal friend. My heartfelt condolences go out to all family and friends. Richard Tear mentions the great newsroom in the sky. If it is waiting there Les will be one of the first I will seek out when my time comes. I’ll probably ask him for a subbing job. It would be lovely to do it all again with an editor I respect so much.

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  • July 10, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Commenting as Hilary Jones.
    Lovely man. Sometimes I thought he was too nice for the job, but he had what it took.

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