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Former weekly editor dies three weeks short of 100th birthday

A journalist who edited his hometown weekly newspaper for 34 years had died just three weeks short of his 100th birthday.

Lloyd Jeffries became editor of the Wellington Weekly News in the year of the late Queen’s coronation – 1953 – and remained in the job until his retirement in 1987.

Joining the newspaper as a trainee reporter as a 14-year-old school leaver in 1938, he was a member of its editorial team for 45 years, broken only by a three-and-a-half year stint in the RAF during World War Two.

Lloyd, who lived in Wellington all his life, was due to celebrate his centenary later this month but died in Burnham on Sea Community Hospital on November 1.

Lloyd Jefferies pictured in 2019

Lloyd Jefferies pictured in 2019

Tributes have been led by former Wellington Weekly News chief reporter Tony Brown, who worked alongside Lloyd for 35 years.

Said Tony: “Lloyd spent much of his time promoting the town – he loved Wellington. He was dedicated to his job and brought on a lot of young journalists who went on to have good careers in the profession. He particularly emphasised the need for correct spelling and facts.”

Barry Knott, the current sports editor on the paper, added: “I was an apprentice under Lloyd for four years and when I left the Wellington paper I joined the Express and Echo in Exeter confident I could handle work on an evening newspaper.

“Lloyd also wanted you to look the part and he once sent me home because I was not wearing a tie. He did not tolerate fools lightly. He was Mr Wellington Weekly.”

Former BBC presenter and journalist Clinton Rogers, who is now a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, said: “I am deeply saddened to hear of Loyd’s death. I owe him my entire career in journalism and broadcasting.

“I worked on the Wellington Weekly News as soon as I left school at 16 and stayed there for three years. Lloyd was not only a great editor, he was a brilliant teacher. I learned more from my three years under his tutelage than I did in 40-plus years after that.

“He was a stickler for accuracy. I remember him telling me once that there are many different ways to spell the name Vicky …. so don’t get it wrong in my newspaper!

“But he was right. And he taught me the values of honesty, integrity, and treating everyone with respect. And nobody deserved more respect in our industry than Lloyd.”

A keen sportsman, Lloyd was men’s singles champion at Wellington Tennis Club and later president, played table tennis for Taunton, and ran Wellington Bridge Club until his early 90s.

He leaves two daughters Jane and Susan, five grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.  His wife Mary died shortly after his retirement in 1987.

Lloyd looked back at his career in a feature for HoldtheFrontPage published in the early days of the site.

At the time he reflected: “What I miss now is not knowing what is happening until I read it in the paper. I was used to knowing the news first.”