AddThis SmartLayers

Weekly’s founding editor who left journalism for priesthood dies aged 86

Tom DuncanA weekly newspaper’s founding editor, who ran the title for three decades before becoming a priest, has died aged 86.

Tributes have been paid to Tom Duncan, who edited the Newham Recorder from its first edition in 1968.

Tom, pictured, later became group editor with responsibility for the Ilford Recorder before leaving to become a clergyman, spending 25 years at All Saints Church, Poplar.

Colin Grainger, his successor at the Recorder, invited Tom back to write a weekly page feature of news and comment until 2009.

Colin, who himself spent 41 years with the Recorder, told HTFP: “Tom was a man of great honesty and integrity. It was my honour to have known him for 52 years.

“He preached the values of doing the job right. We shared many successes and awards. One both he and I are so proud of was the Kevin Jenkins OBE Toy Appeal campaign, run with charity Ambition, Aspire, Achieve.

“This which is still going 46 years after we started it, providing gifts for children who need them the most and would otherwise go without.

“He will be remembered as a man of principle. And the principal man of the Newham Recorder. That’s a legacy.”

Former Newham Recorder reporter Neil Duncanson, now chair of independent production company North One, added: “Over the course of a lifetime you meet thousands of people, but only a few have a genuine impact.

“Tom was one of those rare people. I was a madly enthusiastic, but frankly know-nothing kid fresh out of school. He saw something in me and I got hired as an apprentice reporter.

“As Editor, his unwavering high standards, attention to detail and zealous pursuit of doing the job right gave me the grounding for the career I’ve enjoyed ever since.

“Without Tom I doubt it would have happened. He made a big difference to me and to the lives of so many of my colleagues down the years. They don’t make them like Tom anymore. More’s the pity.”

Tom also worked the Romford Recorder, Luton News, East London Advertiser, and for a number of national papers, including the Daily Sketch, before launching the Newham Recorder 55 years ago.

He was made an Honorary Freeman of Newham in 2000 for his services to the community in the borough.

East Ham MP Sir Stephen Timms said: “He was a towering figure and a very important voice in the community. Tom’s contribution to the Newham Needs campaign, which won better funding for the borough, was an important milestone.”

West Ham MP Lyn Brown added: “Tom was a gentle man and the consummate professional, who wanted the best for the community. He was thoroughly decent and if only some of the press these days were more like Tom, the world would be a better place.”

Tom died on Monday at his home in Beckton and a date has yet to be set for his funeral.

It is likely that a service will be held at All Saints Church, followed by a cremation at the City of London Cemetery in Manor Park.