AddThis SmartLayers

Editor who ran weekly for 37 years dies aged 70

Gareth PurcellAn editor who ran a weekly newspaper for 37 years has died aged 70.

Tributes have been paid to Gareth Purcell, who ran the West Somerset Free Press from 1983 until his retirement in 2020.

According to an obituary in the Free Press, Gareth steered the paper the change from broadsheet to tabloid, as well as the aftermath of a fire which closed the offices for months.

“Whatever the circumstances, under Gareth’s calm and steady leadership, the paper never failed to appear on a Friday,” it read.

Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger told the Free Press: “Gareth really understood what local newspapers are about.

“The great sadness is that he didn’t live long enough to enjoy the long and comfortable retirement which was undeniably his due reward.”

Buckinghamshire-born Gareth left school to join the Bucks Examiner, in Chesham, as a junior reporter, later moving to the Beds and Bucks Observer, where he became deputy editor.

His ambition to be an editor by the age of 30 was fulfilled in 1983 when he arrived in Somerset, where he spent the remainder of his career.

Gareth died at his home in Williton, Somerset, on 28 April, surrounded by his family.

He leaves his wife Sandy, son Gavin, daughter Rhiannon, daughter-in-law Josie, son-in-law Kevin and two grandchildren.