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Parky joins tributes as former weekly editor dies aged 87

An editor who was involved with a weekly newspaper for more than 70 years has died aged 87.

Broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson has been among those to pay tribute to Don Booker, whose association with the Barnsley Chronicle began in 1947.

Don, pictured, edited the Chronicle from 1986 until 1994, but even after retiring continued as its motoring correspondent and provided district news from the village of Monk Bretton, where he lived.

He had originally joined the Chronicle’s advertising department before switching to the newsroom, and  later became friends with Sir Michael when the future broadcaster worked on the rival South Yorkshire Times in the 1950s.

Don Booker

Sir Michael told the Chronicle: “We were competitors but also friends and, most important of all, he had a motorbike so I was his pillion passenger clinging on for dear life until I went in the army to do National Service, which was an experience not half as dangerous as being Don’s pillion passenger. We kept in touch over the years and I had his friendship and his help whenever I came north from London or across from Manchester during my time at the Daily Express and the Manchester Guardian.

“He made a typically humorous and good-natured appearance on my This Is Your Life and, throughout our relationship, was a reliable friend and a good-natured mate. He was also a very good journalist indeed who deeply cared for the reputation of his paper and his job and took it very seriously without ever losing his sense of humour.

“When I think back on the people who enhanced my career, I see Don as a significant figure and I shall be forever grateful for his friendship and example.”

During Don’s editorship, the Chronicle became the fourth biggest-selling weekly paper in the country and campaigned to raise money to get Barnsley Hospice built, while Don also helped to raise money for keyhole surgery equipment for Barnsley hospital.

He was the first weekly newspaper journalist to be elected as associate member of the International Guild of Motoring Writers and in 1981, he won the Michelin Travel award, Britain’s top motoring writers’ prize.

In 2000, he wrote his autobiography ‘A Barnsley Lad’ in which he said: “I could not have had a more wonderful life, even if I had left my much-loved Barnsley.”

Don’s funeral will be held in St Paul’s Church, Monk Bretton, at 1.30pm on Friday 28 September.