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Fond farewells: Remembering the journalists we lost in 2021

Each year we remember those no longer with us who dedicated a significant part of their careers to regional journalism. This year, sadly, we also paid tribute to a dozen journalists still working around the country at the time of their deaths.

Here, as part of our series of pieces looking back at 2021, we feature a selection of obituaries that have appeared on HTFP over the past 12 months, along with some of the tributes that have been paid to them by friends and colleagues.

Gary Baker 1Gary Baker

Launch editor of Trowbridge Nub News and former sports editor of the Gloucestershire Gazette. He died aged 59 following a fall.

“An incredibly dedicated worker, he had built an excellent brand in such a short space of time.” – Nub News chief executive Karl Hancock


Kevan BlackadderKevan Blackadder

Former Gloucestershire Echo editor who died aged 60 after a fatal fall in the hospital where he was being treated for bowel cancer.

“He was a terrific professional to work with; a real old-school hard news man.” – Former Bristol Post and Cotswold Life editor Mike Lowe

John BoymanJohn Boyman

Former Basingstoke Gazette sports editor who died of bowel cancer aged 39.

“His enthusiasm for the sports he covered shone through in his writing, and he had that special ability to bring sports matches alive for the audience in print and online.” – Mark Jones, who edited the Gazette when John joined the newspaper


Chris ByeChris Bye

Editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post between 1987 and 1999. He died of cancer aged 69.

“Chris was an innovative, inspirational and imaginative editor who demanded the best from his staff and gave much of himself for the paper he loved.” – Former YEP production editor Howard Corry


Alan CooperAlan Cooper

Editor of the Plymouth Herald and the Cornish Guardian during a 45-year career. He was 78.

“Alan was one of the last great editors of print journalism, a passionate advocate for the importance of trusted local journalism who fought all his career for the communities his papers covered.” – Stuart Fraser, who worked with Alan for more than 30 years



Maurice CoupeMaurice Coupe

Former Doncaster Free Press editor. He was 94.

“Maurice was old school, unfailingly courteous and correct, and he was very well respected in the town.” – Former Free Press sports editor Peter Catt



Adrian CurtisAdrian Curtis

Journalist who had worked for the Cambridge Independent since its launch in a career in which he also worked for the Lincolnshire Echo and national titles. He died suddenly aged 63.

“My dad was an inspiration and to be able to work alongside such a top operator and a fantastic journalist at the Echo was an honour and a privilege. He was my idol.” – Adrian’s son Leigh Curtis, currently Notts County writer for the Nottingham Post

 Steve DaviesSteve Davies

Investigative journalist and former editor of the Southampton Advertiser and the Basingstoke Observer. He was 72.

“He was a natural storyteller and a gifted journalist who always knew exactly what angle to take to grab readers’ attention.” – Ric Sumner, who worked under Steve at the Observer

James Driver-FisherJames Driver-Fisher

Content manager for the Midland News Association. He died aged 37 after being struck by two cars while walking along the street.

“James will be sorely missed for his humour and his unflappable demeanour in the newsroom. He was a conscientious and dedicated member of our team, not to mention a very talented journalist.” – MNA editor-in-chief Martin Wright

Aileen EadyAileen Eady

Former editor of the Ilkeston Advertiser. She was 78.

“Mum loved working for the Johnston group of newspapers and put her heart and soul into everything she did, often working until the early hours of the morning to meet deadlines and ensure she was 100 per cent happy with her work.” – Aileen’s daughter Sherryl Jaques

 Gill EllisGill Ellis

Former group editor of the Chorley, Preston and Blackpool Citizen newspapers. She died from leukaemia aged 55.

“Gill was a real grafter and work was never just a 9-5 job for her. She took immense pride in the publications she produced and would work until the papers had reached her own exacting standards before sending them to the printers.” – Lancashire Telegraph deputy editor Roger Airey.

Laurence FordLaurence Ford

Editor who had a 14-year spell in charge of the Ross-shire Journal. He was 71.

“He was an old school journalist and proud of it. He was honest, accurate, determined and could turn around a story quickly and in a lucid manner that required little or no alteration.” – Former colleague Paul Breen


 Ken GoodwinKen Goodwin

Worked on the Monmouthshire Beacon for almost half a century – including 35 years as editor. He was 89.

“Ken Goodwin was one of the best local newspapermen of his generation and brought the Beacon through thick and thin for over 50 years.” – Sir Ray Tindle, who bought the Beacon in 1980


Eric GordonEric Gordon

Founder of the Camden New Journal who edited the newspaper up until his death aged 89.

“As editor of one of the last independent titles in the UK, he was proud of the newspaper’s freedom from large groups and championed a co-op style structure, warning that papers would struggle to survive if they had to answer to faraway group executives or distant shareholders.” – Richard Osley, Eric’s successor at the CNJ

Alan_GrahamAlan Graham

Owner of Wolverhampton daily the Express & Star and the Shropshire Star, who played a leading role in launching the latter aged just 20. He was 79.

“I was particularly struck by the fact that many of the people I met had been with you for a number of years and clearly enjoyed their jobs tremendously. It was marvellous to experience the atmosphere of a proper ‘family’ firm!” – The Prince of Wales in a letter to Mr Graham after a visit to the Express & Star office in 1997

Sharon Harris 1Sharon Harris

Reporter who was working on the recently-launched Glamorgan Star at the time of her death aged 50. She previously spent 13 years working for the Barry and District News.

“Sharon was a lovely person who devoted her career to serving the people of Barry as a reporter, a town she loved.” – Sarah Wigmore, audience and content editor at the South Wales Argus

 Bert Houston 1Bert Houston

Journalist thought to be the UK’s oldest working reporter. He covered courts, military issues and sport for titles including the Dumfries & Galloway Standard and Dumfries Courier prior to his death aged 88.

“Bert was a real character and we will miss him greatly. He was the consummate professional and enjoyed his work immensely.” – Galloway News editor Iain Pollock

 Kevin HighesKevin Hughes

Former Flintshire Chronicle editor who died of coroanvirus aged 63.

“A larger than life character, full of enthusiasm, who gave 100% to everything he put his hand to.” – Hadyn Iball, head of photography at North Wales Live


 Kay HunterKay Hunter

Former Diss Express editor. She died aged 92 after contracting coronavirus.

“Kay brought her calm leadership to the Diss Express when its survival was in doubt. In its new tabloid form, she gently steered it back to health.” – Former Express reporter Martin Ward


Peter LeaneyPeter Leaney

Former editor of North Wales daily The Leader and editorial director of North Wales Newspapers. He was 87.

“He was a highly intelligent, astute figure who was a genius at nurturing what he believed was young talent. He was always giving, and his ‘young lieutenants’ never wanted to let him down.” – Former NWN associate editor Steve Rogers

 David Lennard 1David Lennard

Editor of the Beccles and Bungay Journal until his retirement in 2015. He died aged 68 after suffering from cancer for eight years.

“In his roles across East Anglia, one common denominator stands out – how much each of the communities he served loved him. I was honoured to work with him in a couple of his roles and he always delivered the stories that mattered.” – Nigel Pickover, who was editor when David worked at the Eastern Daily Press

Hector Lloyd-JonesHector Lloyd-Jones

Former editor of the Denbighshire Free Press who later became training officer at North Wales Newspapers. He was 82.

“Hector was a proper old-school journalist and a great character to have around, particularly to those starting out in the industry.” – MNA editor-in-chief Martin Wright, who was trained by Hector

Bryan LongworthBryan Longworth

Former editor of the Sheffield edition of the South Yorkshire Times. He was 87.

“Bryan was a dedicated, hard-working journalist, a community champion who served with a real sense of duty – a lovely guy.” – JPIMedia commercial editor Graham Walker


Andrew MartinAndrew Martin

Former editor of the Worcester News who was still working for Newsquest North Wales at the time of his death aged 69.

“Andy was not just a great colleague but a good friend. He was a true newspaper man, and his work ethic and enthusiasm were an inspiration to us all.” – Susan Perry, group editor for Newsquest North Wales

George MakinGeorge Makin

Birmingham Live local democracy reporter who died aged 62, weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

“Professionally, he was determined, dogged and tenacious – but always fair. But he was more than that – someone always happy to help others and a team-member who always made the working environment better.” – Birmingham Live editor Graeme Brown

 Ray Miller 1Ray Miller

Editor of the Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News who continued to run its nostalgia page until 2015. He was 90.

“A lovely bloke with a sparkling affection for the patch and the paper.” – Weekly News reporter Oliver Clay


 Rachel Nurse 2Rachel Nurse

South Wales Argus reporter who also served on the launch team for The National Wales. She died of ovarian cancer aged 23.

“She was, quite simply, a ray of sunshine who brought joy to the newsroom. A career should be measured in achievements, not time, and Rachel’s was pretty amazing.” – Argus editor Gavin Thompson


Katie OkonkwoKatie Okonkwo

Former Teesside Gazette reporter who died from breast cancer aged 34.

“I had the pleasure of working with Katie in our newsroom. She was lovely person and dedicated colleague.” – Ian McNeal, editor of the Gazette’s sister titles Teesside Live and Hartlepool Live


Ian PolmearIan Polmear

Regional press and broadcast journalist who was working for the St Ives Times & Echo at the time of his death aged 54.

“Journalist. Radio Presenter. Production Genius. Brilliant man.” – Former colleague Aaron James


 Linda QuinnLinda Quinn

Editor of the Brixton Bugle newspaper and former London Daily News journalist. She died days after celebrating her 70th birthday.

“In line with her passion for passing on her knowledge and wisdom to young people, especially those from backgrounds like her own, she made sure that one of the [Bugle’s] aims is to provide opportunities for aspiring young journalists to work on important stories.” – Her widower Alan Slingsby, who also writes for the Bugle

Bob Satchwell cropBob Satchwell

Editor of the Cambridge Evening News for 14 years who went on to found and lead the Society of Editors for the first 18 years of its existence.

“I know I speak for the board and membership of the Society when I say we have lost one of the media’s greatest champions. The principles of a free press ran through his veins.” – Ian Murray, Bob’s successor as SoE executive director

Jamie ShuttleworthJamie Shuttleworth

Head of social media at the Glasgow Times. He was 29.

“He knew his stuff, he had brilliant ideas, but, most of all, he had a relentless enthusiasm and energy for journalism which rubbed off on everybody else.” – Times editor Callum Baird


 Peter WatsonPeter Watson

Editor of Aberdeen’s Press & Journal between 1975 and his retirement in 1987. He was 94.

“A kindly, empathetic man who will be remembered with much gratitude and affection by all the young journalists in whose training and welfare he took such a keen, invaluable, career-furthering interest.” – Hamish Mackay, former deputy news editor of the P&J