A former regional newspaper managing director says he is “humbled and gobsmacked” after being awarded the MBE in the New Year’s Honours list.
Bob Cuffe, who served as MD for Trinity Mirror’s North-East region in two spells before being made redundant a second time last year, has been granted the honour for services to business and economic development on Teesside.
Since leaving TM, now known as Reach plc, he has taken up several non-executive director and advisory roles in the North-East of England.
Bob, pictured, initially served as TM’s Teesside MD from 2007 to 2011, and then took on responsibility for the wider North-East region until his role was axed in 2012. He returned as MD in Middlesbrough in 2014, regaining his region-wide responsibilities in 2016.
He said: “It’s strange that at the age of 58, my first thought was back to my roots with mam and dad, but I know how proud they’d have been.
“If I’m defined by anything in my career, I’m immensely proud to have been associated with The Gazette – not just a commentator on events but an active participant in the outcomes.
“The Gazette was a prime mover and I was proud to be a part of that.”
He added: “Most of the stuff I did externally when I was with The Gazette was about the regeneration of Teesside.
“I’ve always fought back against our innate Teesside pessimism. I’d hear ‘oh, there’s no jobs on Teesside’ and that ‘it’s not a good place be raised in’ but that was a default setting I’ve never agreed with.
“Some council leaders and politicians have, throughout my working life, by and large talked the area down. The business community has always been the most optimistic and The Gazette has been an important part of that, getting the hopes and aspirations of business out there.
“I don’t care about political parties. When Lord Heseltine was involved after the steelworks closed, I asked him ‘why are you here?’. He replied ‘Because I want to help’ and I thought, ‘that’s good enough for me’. If anyone wants to support Teesside, I’m quite happy to be their friend.”
Bob has been married to wife Linda for 36 years and is father to sons Christopher, 28, Liam, 26, and Kieran, 22.