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Review of 2017: Those we have lost

Each year sees us bid farewell to those who dedicated their lives to regional journalism, and 2017 was no different.

Our Review of the Year series concludes with a selection of obituaries which have featured on HTFP over the past 12 months, along with some of the tributes that have been paid to them by friends and colleagues.

Pat AshberryPat Ashberry

Journalist at the Boston Standard for 44 years, who died aged 80.




“We are often accused of being cynical but Pat had true feelings and when she interviewed people, they felt they had been talking to a friend.” – Former Standard editor George Wheatman

Nicola-Berry-e1485272007998Nicola Barry

Edinburgh Evening News journalist, who won 27 press awards during her career. She died aged 66.



“Nicola was a one-off, not a traditional reporter but a writer and interviewer of great sensitivity, and without question one of the best writers the Evening News ever employed.” – Former Evening News editor John McLellan

Dave BlackDave Black

Long-standing Northumberland district man for Newcastle’s Chronicle and Journal newspapers who died aged 61.



“Dave knew his patch like the back of his hand and his many, many contacts knew and trusted him. He was a news editor’s dream: his copy was always clean and every angle of the story was covered.” – Richard Kirkman, print publishing editor of The Journal.

Raymond-BowerRaymond Bower

North Wales Chronicle editor for 23 years, who died aged 87.



“I remember him well, he was a proper “old school” style editor, and a gentleman. He was always a professional, always wore a suit and the old style trouser braces.” – Chronicle photographer Kerry Roberts

 George BrittainGeorge Brittain

Group publishing director for Johnston Press, who died aged 52




“Those fortunate enough to have worked closely with George, like myself, can tell you that he was a tenacious, principled, hard-working and a passionate newspaper man, respected and liked by colleagues and suppliers alike – and that he will be very much missed.” – Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield

Alan Calvert 1Alan Calvert

Former Bolton News deputy editor, who spent 40 years with the newspaper. He died aged 72.




“He was a fierce supporter of local journalism” – Bolton News obituary

 The York Street office of The Star, SheffieldPaul Carter

Sheffield Star reporter who went on to become deputy editor of the Daily Mail.  He died aged 54.



“Paul was one of the most brilliant all-round journalists I have worked with and in his 17 years here made an incalculable contribution to the Mail’s success. He is a huge loss both to the paper and to the many colleagues whom he befriended and mentored.” – Paul Dacre, Editor of the Daily Mail

Alan-Curren-e1501073261845Alan Curren

Former Chorley and Leyland Guardian news editor, whose career spanned six decades. He died aged 85.



“Alan was a great guy – an old-school journalist and a pleasure to work for. I learned so much from him. He taught us all to treat everyone with respect no matter how high or low their social status, but never to be intimidated by power.” – Former Guardian reporter David Nowell

Terry-Connolly-e1510850840288Terry Connolly

Picture editor at both the Sussex Express and Eastbourne Herald and Gazette. who died aged 80.



“There was hardly a major story in East Sussex in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s that Terry didn’t cover. He wasn’t just a photographer, he was a 24/7 news man with a terrific imagination.” – Former Herald editor Peter Austin

Trevor-Frecknall1-e1509722994810Trevor Frecknall

Ex-Nottingham Post sports editor an Athletics Weekly news editor , who died of cancer aged 72 the week after achieving his last wish of meeting his first grandchild.



“Trevor’s warmth and genuine enthusiasm and love for the sport endeared him to so many of us.” – World marathon record-holder Paula Radcliffe

Les GentLes Gent

Bolton Evening News editor from 1979 to 1986, who died aged 79.





“He was an excellent journalist, cared passionately about his home town of Bolton and supported his local newspaper to the end.” – Current News editor Ian Savage

Victor GordonVictor Gordon

Former Portadown Times deputy editor and Armagh Guardian editor. He lost his cancer battle aged 74, weeks after filing his final piece.



“With the greatest of respect to the Portadown Times, Victor could have gone on to much bigger things. He was a journalist of the highest quality and had numerous opportunities to move on but he was fiercely loyal to the paper and he absolutely loved reporting on news from his home town.” – Belfast News Letter editor Alistair Bushe

Peter-Hiley-e1485947447381Peter Hiley

Ex-Reading Evening Post editor whose campaigning saved Reading Football Club from being merged with rivals Oxford United and saw him named Newsperson of the Year at the Southern Press Awards. He died aged 85.


“He will be greatly missed not just by his family and friends but also by the many journalists he worked with and mentored.” – Peter’s son Graham

Raymond HughesRaymond Hughes

Ulster Gazette editor between 2012 and 2013, who saved the life of his cousin by donating one of his kidneys to her in 2016. He died of natural causes aged 53.



“He was a brilliant journalist and a kind friend. We had some craic over the past 30 years.” – Journalist Carmel Robinson

samrana-hussainSamrana Hussain

Former Lancashire Telegraph journalist who died suddenly aged 38




 “She was always up for a laugh, full of beans and looking for a new challenge whether it was a crazy recipe she wanted to concoct or a jaunt to Beijing.” Former Telegraph colleague Helen Greaney.

Seuna-Walker-e1510665238193Seuna Martin

Former group editor of the Paisley Gazette and Gateshead Post, and assistant editor of Aberdeen daily the Press & Journal, who lost her four-year cancer battle aged 52.



“She was a brilliant writer and rightly proud of the success she had in both careers in journalism and PR.” – Seuna’s husband and fellow former P&J journalist Gordon Walker

Bete-McArdle-e1503414607360Bette McArdle

Ex-editor of the John O’Groat Journal and the Caithness Courier, who died aged 81.




“With a wide range of contacts, she was also genuinely interested in so much going on in and around Inverness. She’ll be warmly remembered as someone who made a big impact on journalism in the Highlands.” – Former Scottish Provincial Press sub-editor Colin Campbell

Rob MillerRob Miller

Former journalist with the Oxford Mail, who died aged 50



“Those who remember him were shocked and saddened at news of Rob’s death. He was a real newsroom character and an old-fashioned eccentric.” – Oxford Mail spokesman.

David-Morgan-1-e1486132762985David Morgan

Editor of the Forres Gazette between 1981 and 2001, who died aged 66.




“A true local journo that knew his patch and politics intimately, and always treated people, events, stories – and cars – objectively but with fairness.” – Moray Council communications spokesman Peter Jones

John-Morrell-e1490970769475John Morrell

Morecambe Visitor and Lancashire Evening Post journalist who ghosted columns for England football internationals Sir Tom Finney and Sir Bobby Charlton.



“John’s reporting in The Visitor of Morecambe FC games remain legendary; reading his accounts brought a game to life. A proper journalist.” – Morecambe Football Club director Rod Taylor

Chris NixonChris Nixon

Former Scarborough News journalist known as ‘Nugget of the News’ who died aged 61




“I gave him free rein to be the paper’s investigative leader, to tackle stories and issues he felt were important and to show the other young trainees we took on what being a reporter was all about. You couldn’t have anyone better for that role than Chris.” – Neil Speight, former Scarborough News editor

StanOliver-e1512561898604Stan Oliver

Second World War commando who became deputy editor of the Shields Gazette. He died aged 90.



“Stan was a newspaperman to his bones and cared passionately about the paper and about the role of the local press in the community.” – Retired Gazette features writer Janis Blower

Martin ReganMartin Regan

Founder of local newspapers Macclesfield Today and Wilmslow Today. The titles closed after his sudden death aged 54.



“Martin was a unique character with a profound love of art and will be very much missed.” – Martin’s friend Susan Eyres

 Mike RobinsonMike Robinson

Former South Shropshire Journal editor who passed away the day after his wife, aged 65.




“Mike was a great professional journalist and a great character who will really be sadly missed. He was a larger than life character, great fun and he was a great man to work with for 12 years.” – Former Shrewsbury Chronicle editor John Butterworth.

 Don SimpsonDon Simpson

Editor of the East Anglian Daily times between 1968 and 1981, who died aged 89.




“He really enjoyed journalism and the varied life it gave him. He always treated people with respect, regardless of who they were or where they came from and taught me to do the same.” – Don’s daughter Amy Quinn

Cliff-Smith-e1504867496205Cliff Smith

Editor and director of the Lincolnshire for 10 years between 1987 and 1997. He died aged 81.




“He gave me and a lot of young people our first steps into journalism. He was an Echo man through and through and he was well-respected in the business community.” – Former Echo journalist Chris Hutchings

Eric Snape 1Eric Snape

Journalist who spent 60 years at Stoke daily The Sentinel – serving in roles including sports editor, music critic and reporter. He died aged 86.


“Eric was a very modest man, quietly spoken – particularly compared to some of the other personalities in the office – but he was very charming. I never saw him lose his temper.” – Former Sentinel reporter Dianne Gibbons MBE

Hilda SwinneyHilda Swinney

Dorset Echo correspondent awarded the MBE for services to journalism and charity, who died aged 90.



“She considered the Echo family and she offered guidance and support to a generation of young reporters, myself included. Despite not being a trained journalist she had the natural gifts that could not be taught; people liked her, people trusted her and people believed her.” – Current Echo editor Diarmuid MacDonagh

 Geoff-Worrall-e1484052958942Geoff Worrall

Former Exeter Express & Echo journalist whose career spanned eight decades. He died aged 94.



“He may have officially retired when he was 65 but in fact he never really retired and kept on writing.” – Geoff’s son David

 Steve-Wheeler-e1507645879522Steve Wheeler

Oxford Mail photographer who died suddenly aged 62, days after covering a set of sporting fixtures for the newspaper.



“Every weekend without fail he would ensure he was available to go to whatever jobs we asked him to – often having to rearrange family commitments because he did not want to let us down.” – Mail sports editor Mark Edwards