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‘Pioneer’ who was one of UK’s first female chief reporters dies aged 91

Ethel SimpsonA “pioneering” regional journalist who became one of the UK’s first female chief reporters has died aged 91.

Tributes have been paid to Ethel Simpson, left, who spent 42 years working for Aberdeen daily the Press & Journal.

Ethel, who died on 12 December, joined the Press & Journal as a shorthand typist in 1944 and got her chance in the editorial department the following year, after one of the reporters was called up to serve in the Second World War.

She moved steadily up the ranks, ultimately rising to the role of chief reporter in 1975 before retiring in 1986.

A constant fighter for gender equality in the newsroom, at one point she took up the case of a female journalist told to go home and change from trousers into a skirt.

Hamish Mackay, who was head of news at the P&J, knew Ethel as a colleague and friend for 50 years.

He said: “Ethel had a heart of gold and was generous in every respect. She was always concerned about the welfare of others.

“We will miss her kindness, her jollity, her respect for both man and beast and her dismissiveness of any airs and graces and affectation.”

In retirement, Ethel launched an annual social gathering for former and largely retired colleagues at Aberdeen Cricket Club. which became a highlight of the city’s social calendar.

She is survived by her daughter Emma, one of the BBC’s national news business correspondents, son-in-law Neil, and grandsons Alex and James.

Said Emma: “I will miss her terribly but I know hers was a life well lived.”