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Journalist who spent four decades with newspaper dies weeks into retirement

Nick ColeA journalist who spent more than four decades with a regional newspaper has died just weeks after finishing work.

Tributes have been paid to Nick Cole, left, who had worked on the staff of the Scunthorpe Telegraph from 1976 until the end of May this year.

After finishing as a staffer, Nick had continued to write his popular Barfly column shining a spotlight on the area’s pub trade.

Nick’s final column was published on 5 July, and he died at Scunthorpe General Hospital on Tuesday after a short illness.  He was 72.

Born and raised in Lincolnshire, the son of Second World War RAF Bomber Command crewman, Nick had three sons, two daughters and 14 grandchildren.

Nigel Fisher, a colleague of Nick’s at the Telegraph since 1984 said his death marked “the end of an era in local newspapers”.

He said: “He was the last in a line of reporters who picked up the vast majority of their top stories by talking to people in the clubs and pubs. Many a Telegraph front page story began as scribbled notes made in the bar by Nick as closing time approached.

“Accompanying Nick to licensed premises demonstrated just how many people he knew in Scunthorpe and further afield. He was the brainchild behind many successful Telegraph campaigns, including free beer promotions.

“It’s very sad to lose Nick but those who knew him will have many happy memories of sharing a few pints and some laughs with him in local bars. In the Telegraph office, he was the go-to reporter when a lead story for the front page was required by the newsdesk. Indeed, he was often able to offer a choice of several.

“One thing was certain when it came to working with Nick – day in, day out – things were never dull.”

Telegraph digital editor Jamie Macaskill added: “Nick was a dedicated newspaperman, a huge character and a champion of the community in Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire.

“He had a traditional approach to news, preferring to be out and about in the community meeting contacts, picking up leads and hunting down stories.

“He was straight-forward and wouldn’t mind me saying he didn’t have a huge amount of time for new technology. A pen and old notepad or even scrap of paper were his preferred tools to work with as any bewildered IT helpdesk worker would know.

“His loyalty to the Telegraph and its readers was beyond question. He will be sadly missed by his colleagues, many friends and contacts across the region.”

Nick ran a pub cricket league in Scunthorpe, organised the town’s annual Rock Open and Class Act talent contest, and also served as Father of the Chapel within the National Union of Journalists.

His daughter Natalia Robinson said: “He was happy and carefree and he would just want a pint. He was known by everybody. He was a normal lad and a young kid at heart.”

2 comments

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  • July 20, 2018 at 3:49 pm
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    Worked with Nick at the Nuneaton Evening Tribune. He was a journalist who knew how to dig out ‘proper’ news stories – the ones that others didn’t want published. Sorry to learn that he did not get to enjoy the long retirement he had earned and deserved.

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  • July 21, 2018 at 11:04 pm
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    Funnily enough, I was only thinking about Nick last week. I spoke to a train conductor who used to chat to me on my commute to work at the Telegraph a decade ago. At the time, he’d asked where I worked and when I told him, he said “Do you know Nick Cole”? So always stuck in my mind and it chimes with Nigel’s ‘just how many people he knew’ comment.
    I was only at the Telegraph for a few years, but Nick will stick in my mind as a hardworking, hard-drinking old-school hack. From an era that probably spurred on my interest in the industry. The type you’d imagine to have a pen in his hat and a crumpled mac. His entertainments spread was a ruddy nightmare to sub and lay out on the weeks it was left to me. Resolution of photographs and the physical dimensions of how much copy could fit on a page without reducing it to 6pt were alien to Nick, but he did once give me a massive DVD collection of Prisoner Cell Block H that he’d been forwarded for review purposes. Tricky chap, who I recall supped half the bar tab at my leaving do while I was on lates putting the paper to bed, but a true North Lincs legend and passionate scribe who deserved a longer, restful retirement!

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