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Editor once told he was “too old” to be trainee dies aged 91

Dennis WoodA long-serving weekly newspaper editor who was once turned down for a trainee reporter role for being “too old” has died aged 91.

Tributes have been paid to Dennis Wood, who edited Epping Forest Guardian forerunner the West Essex Gazette.

His journalistic career almost ended before it began in 1948, when his application to become a trainee reporter for the Gazette was turned down because, at the age of 21, he was deemed too old.

But a chance encounter with a young reporter called Christine in an Ongar pub led to him being offered a job on the paper – as well as a blossoming relationship.

The couple married in 1959 and they had two sons, together called Nicholas and Jonathan.

And Dennis, pictured above, rose through the ranks at the Gazette before taking on its editorship.

Former Gazette-Guardian group editor Paul Davies said: “Everyone who worked with Dennis spoke of him with affection.

“He had a great sense of fair play both in his dealings with others and in his journalistic principles.

“It won him respect not only among his colleagues but with community leaders and members of the reading public.

“His knowledge of the Epping Forest area was encyclopaedic and he took his responsibilities as an editor very seriously. For all his gentle, non-confrontational manner, nothing got past him.”

Dennis retired in 1991, but Christine sadly died in 1993.

He later married his second wife Jill, who he met while on holiday in 1995.

Dennis died at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow, on 6 February, leaving behind six grandchildren.

His funeral will be held at Cam Valley Crematorium, Great Chesterford, Essex, at midday on Thursday 22 February.