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Chief sub who devoted career to daily and was awarded MBE dies aged 92

Gerald WalkerA journalist who spent his entire career with the same newspaper and was awarded the MBE has died aged 92.

Tributes have been paid to Gerald Walker, former chief sub-editor and group training officer at the Bath Chronicle.

Gerald, pictured, spent 17 years as chief sub at the Chronicle and, as a journalism trainer, he was also involved with courses at Ruskin College, Oxford, and the former Westminster Press training centre in Hastings.

He was given the MBE for services to journalism in 1994, the year he retired.

The only son of Julia and Harry Walker, Gerald followed in the footsteps of his father, a former editor of the Bath and Wilts Chronicle and Herald.

Michael Mathias, the former editor of Mid Somerset Series of newspapers, described Gerald, his friend since 1958, as “a friendly and fearless champion of fair play, flawless professionalism and unrestricted approachability”.

Said Michael: “When he began his career with the Bath Chronicle he was politely sent from the seat of power in Bath to the outreaches of empire at Trowbridge, the Wiltshire county town and also the headquarters of the Chronicle’s weekly, the Wiltshire News.

“Although Gerald had driven vehicles during his national service days as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, at times benignly guarding Hadrian’s Wall, he never drove again once his military duties were over.

“He literally pounded the beat in west Wiltshire on foot when bus and train were unavailable. But he was the unflappable Gerald, and his characteristic serenity saw him take this rustic life in his stride.

“After walking, when necessary, the highways and byways he would often finish his working day near midnight, all stories written in the Trowbridge office, catch the late train and walk the last two miles home from Bath station.”

After six years in Trowbridge, Gerald moved to become a sub-editor at the Chronicle’s main office, 33 Westgate Street, and he was later promoted to chief sub.

As group training officer, he taught reporters at both the Chronicle and the newly-acquired Mid Somerset Series.

Michael added Gerald would be “affectionately remembered for his personal qualities as an exemplary gentleman and a caring human being”.

He said: “Throughout his career and personal life Gerald was a master of conversational skills which he combined with openminded friendliness and an unassuming courtesy automatically biased in favour of others often at his own expense and feelings.”

Gerald died on 30 September at a nursing home in Church Stretton, Shropshire, close to the home of a niece.

His funeral will be held at St John’s Roman Catholic Church, Bath, at 1pm on Friday 28 October.

* Paul Deal, editor of the Bath Evening Chronicle, 1990-1994, adds: “Gerald was the complete gentleman: kind and courteous, modest and fair-minded. He saw a string of editors come and go over the decades and I can’t help thinking he was the best editor the Chronicle never had. He possessed great local knowledge and contacts and was a stickler for accuracy and well-written stories.
“It was a privilege and pleasure to work alongside him and to look in on the ‘copy clinics’ he held with our trainee journalists, teaching them the ropes and gently guiding them towards work that was up to his high standard.

“Gerald helped not just the Chronicle’s trainees but also those from papers across the south of England which belonged to the same parent company, Westminster Press. He was a popular and respected tutor at weekend schools held at Ruskin College, Oxford.

“Since news of his death was announced I have received warm and affectionate recollections from a number of former Chronicle trainees he took under his wing and from their senior colleagues.”