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Editor who was an ‘institution’ on his patch dies aged 87

Ron NicholasAn editor described as an “institution” on the patch he served for three decades has died aged 87.

Tributes have been paid to Ron Nicholas, who edited the Shrewsbury Chronicle until his retirement in January 1984.

According to the Shropshire Star, he was known for his “outspoken and controversial” columns and his ability to “frighten” local councillors.

Former Shrewsbury mayor Phil Gillam, who  worked at the Shrewsbury Chronicle as a young reporter in the late 1970s, led tributes to Ron.

He told the Star: “He was quite an outspoken and controversial columnist who for many years wrote a very well read column in the Shrewsbury Chronicle.

“Of course he was chief reporter there for a long, long time.

“He was something of an institution really. A lot of local councillors were quite frightened of him, I think.

“He was certainly not backwards in coming forwards and in his column he was quite critical of the local council in those days.”

Pat Smith, who first met Ron while a trainee reporter on the Chronicle in 1968, added: “Ron knew a lot of people in and around Shrewsbury and a lot of people knew him. He made getting a good story look easy.

“Walking through the town that he loved he would often be stopped, or stop for a chat.

“Sometimes he was challenged about something he had written in his weekly column, This Is My Opinion. In this he would comment on a variety of subjects, but usually it was the local councils, and sometimes councillors, who came in for criticism over decisions they had made, or not made.

“One of his long-running gripes was about rubber plants in some of the offices at Shrewsbury Shirehall, home of Shropshire County Council.

“It was a long time ago, but I seem to remember it was about who had paid for them. Eventually Ron had one on his desk – which he paid for himself.

“Ron was a first-class journalist of the old school who taught me and many young reporters a tremendous amount about the industry.

“He carried a gentle air of authority but was a very kind and understanding person and liked to help the underdog.”

Ron began his career as a junior reporter on the Shrewsbury Midweek Advertiser in 1952, moving to the Chronicle as a senior reporter in 1968 when the Midweek Advertiser was bought by the Powysland Newspaper Group, which became Shropshire Newspapers when it was acquired in turn by the Midland News Association.

He later became news editor and then editor of the paper.

According to the Star, Ron had heart problems and retired through ill health in 1984.

He then became press officer for Shrewsbury Flower Show, a role he held until 2000.

Former Advertiser chief reporter Bob Davies: “During our time together on the Advertiser, Ron and I were joint secretaries of the very successful Shropshire Press Ball.

He was a very capable journalist, well-connected in Shrewsbury and had good contacts on the council.

“I think he was a year older than me, and I’m 86.”