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Editor who made headlines for refusing to remove trademark trilby dies aged 77

Colin OsborneA former weekly editor who once made national headlines for refusing to remove his trademark trilby in a pub has died aged 77.

Tributes have been paid to Colin Osborne, who edited the Hereford Journal and also worked in public relations for cider company Bulmers during his career.

After retiring from journalism, Colin found himself in the news in 2006 after refusing a request to remove his trilby hat in a pub in Hereford on the grounds that it obscured his face from the pub’s CCTV cameras.

“When I started as a journalist it used to be de-facto to have a belted coat and a trilby and in those days I had both,” he said at the time.

Described by one former colleague as the “scourge of Herefordshire Council”, Colin would also frequently smoke cigars at the Journal’s offices in violation of the company’s no smoking rule.

In recent years he suffered a series of health setbacks, enduring open heart surgery and later bowel cancer.

Vince Bufton, who edited the Ludlow and Tenbury Wells Advertisers in the 1990s, told the Hereford Times : “He was a thoroughly professional journalist who took great pride in his work. A lively colleague, sharp-witted, humorous and one who suffered no nonsense.

“If he asked a direct question he wanted a direct answer – and usually got it. He was warm-hearted and generous and wonderfully loyal to his friends.”

Colin worked on the Yorkshire Post and Western Daily Press before moving to Hereford, where he initially worked in Bulmers’ public relations’ office.

Former PR manager George Thomas said: “Colin had a great work ethic and would never let a good news story fall by the wayside.

“He was a great character, a great companion and a damned good newsman. He was the scourge of Herefordshire Council.”

Ian Morris, assistant editor at the rival Times, added: “We all enjoyed his old-school ways despite the many jibes he made towards the HT on his pages, But it was all done in the right spirit, he was a great character.”

Colin, who died last weekend, is survived by his wife Judy and his three children.

The Journal was closed by its owners the Midland News Association in 2014.

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  • May 29, 2018 at 11:20 am
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    As a reporter who still wears a trilby, I doff my hat to Colin – how sad that the Hereford Journal is also no more…

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  • May 29, 2018 at 3:12 pm
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    I first encountered Colin as a wet-behind-the-ears trainee reporter, when I stumbled into the rather cramped offices of the Hereford Journal, back then in Broad Street, to report for duty on a week of work experience. From behind an enormous pile of papers and swathed in his trademark cloud of cigar smoke emerged this rather irascible figure, who I soon learned was the Chief Reporter. After an induction which included a pint in the Queen’s Head and a crash-course in the arcane computer systems used at the time, I was then put straight to work, filing copy for that week’s edition.

    He must have seen something in me that week, as I learned later that it was Colin who championed my cause as a graduate trainee and was largely responsible for my break into journalism, first as a freelance and then and then as a junior reporter. I learned so much from him – not least a whole new lexicon of rather ripe language – but perhaps most importantly of all, never to panic when faced with a blank page and a looming deadline.

    Colin was famed among his colleagues for his unerring natural talent for disappearing off for a long lunch, usually at Gilbies, emerging ‘refreshed’ several hours later with a cracking story to fill the front page, almost inevitably aimed at ruffling the feathers of someone-or-other in high office. He had a particular loathing for pomposity and took great enjoyment out of pricking it at every given opportunity.

    He was in many ways the archetypal old-school ‘hack’ with all the character traits to boot, including a trench coat and Trilby. He could be prickly at times – his short fuse was legendary – but at the same time was an intensely loyal friend. He was immensely encouraging when I left the Journal to start the next chapter of my career as a police press officer and it is a mark of the man that we retained our friendship for nearly 20 years. There are many others who had had the privilege of working with him down the years who can say the same.

    His stories from his time in journalism and as PR Manager for Bulmers and the Courage brewery were legendary – and there seemed to be one for every occasion, recounted in precise and comic detail. I often told him he should write a book about his life story, though it is doubtful the libel laws would fully have allowed it! Alas we will never now have the opportunity to find out – but for all of those who knew him, it has given us a large bank of largely unprintable memories to keep us entertained for years to come.

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  • May 30, 2018 at 10:10 am
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    I first encountered Colin as a wet-behind-the-ears trainee reporter, when I stumbled into the rather cramped offices of the Journal, back then in Broad Street, to report for duty on a week of work experience. From behind an enormous pile of papers and swathed in his trademark cloud of cigar smoke emerged this rather irascible figure, who I soon learned was the Chief Reporter. After an induction which included a pint in the Queen’s Head and a crash-course in the arcane computer systems used at the time, I was then put straight to work, filing copy for that week’s edition.

    He must have seen something in me that week, as I learned later that it was Colin who championed my cause as a graduate trainee and was largely responsible for my break into journalism, first as a freelance and then and then as a junior reporter. I learned so much from him – not least a whole new lexicon of rather ripe language – but perhaps most importantly of all, never to panic when faced with a blank page and a looming deadline.

    Colin was famed among his colleagues for his unerring natural talent for disappearing off for a long lunch, usually at Gilbies, emerging ‘refreshed’ several hours later with a cracking story to fill the front page, almost inevitably aimed at ruffling the feathers of someone-or-other in high office. He had a particular loathing for pomposity and took great enjoyment out of pricking it at every given opportunity.

    “He was in many ways the archetypal old-school ‘hack’ with all the character traits to boot, including a trench coat and Trilby. He could be prickly at times – his short fuse was legendary – but at the same time was an intensely loyal friend. He was immensely encouraging when I left the Journal to start the next chapter of my career as a police press officer and it is a mark of the man that we retained our friendship for nearly 20 years. There are many others who had had the privilege of working with him down the years who can say the same.

    His stories from his time in journalism and as PR Manager for Bulmers and the Courage brewery were legendary – and there seemed to be one for every occasion, recounted in precise and comic detail. I often told him he should write a book about his life story, though it is doubtful the libel laws would fully have allowed it! Alas we will never now have the opportunity to find out – but for all of those who knew him, it has given us a large bank of largely unprintable memories to keep us entertained for years to come.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)