Book of Condolence: Bob Satchwell
Bob and I first met when he pitched up at the Cambridge (then) Evening News as editor – complete with his Northern ways and Fleet Street pedigree, both of which were quite an eye-opener for the mostly Patrician newsroom!
I worked on the sports desk and left before long to try my own hand at editing, on the Diss Express. He sent me on my way with some kind words and followed that with more words – mostly kind, some expletives – over the next 30 years.
We served together on the board of the NCTJ and I was pleased to help with SoE events like conferences and awards judging. I also found out long after I had done the job that he was instrumental in securing me the post of editor of the Trinidad Express.
I last saw him at an event at The Stationers Hall, a fitting venue for what turned out to be goodbye. I was with my daughter, who he charmed. He ritually upbraided me in his own inimitable manner – and I grateful for that memory.
Rest in peace, Bob, hope you are sailing on calm waters.Alan Geere
Very sad news. Bob was a force of nature who – more or less single-handed – built up the Society of Editors when it was first created. He worked tirelessly for it, and in the cause of media freedom. He was also committed to broadening its membership and remit to include the broadcasting sector. He was a loyal friend who cared passionately for the industry and the people who work in it.Simon Bucks, BFBS
So sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. A passionate advocate of all things editorial, a great organiser, and a fun guy to be around, he could always be relied on for guidance and help. And a pint! An outstanding man of endeavour, friendship, conviviality and humour. I have nothing but fond memories of a man who was as interested in wee weekly newspapers as big dailies, A massive loss to everyone who knew him.Donald Fullarton, Guild, then Society of Editors (Scotland)
Kind, considerate, generous of spirit and advice. A true Trojan to our calling. Thank you for being our friend.Ken Bennett, Journalist & newspaper publisher
Bob was a giant. He oversaw a seminal report into the lack of racial diversity in newsrooms back in 2013 – and he led the charge. He knew we have not done enough, but he started the movement, so thank you Bob. We owe you a great deal.Professor Barnie Choudhury, Editor-at-large, Eastern Eye
Sad news. Bob was a lifelong champion of the UK press, fighting to protect its livelihood nationally and especially in the regions. A hard act to follow.Paul Charman, Media trainer and journalist
Bob through sheer personality and graft helped make the Society of Editors into the campaigning organisation it is today. I knew him first as an editor and then as the Society of Editors’ director. He stood up for the public’s right to know and the integrity of journalism with an unflagging commitment which would be deployed at national, regional and local events and in print, online and in the broadcast media. He was a great person to work with on many campaigns . His warm heart and good humour will be missed by us all.David Newell, News Media Association
I worked alongside Bob on the NCTJ advisory panel for a number of years. Always passionate, knowledgeable, and full of common sense. A real leader who left his mark on our industry. RIP.Peter Barron, Former Northern Echo editor
Bob was such a friend to me when I moved from journalism into training the next generation of journalists, inviting me into the SoE and sharing valuable contacts. Cuttingly blunt and yet always supportive, I fondly remember smoking far too many cigarettes in cold car parks while discussing the future of our trade. Condolences to his loved ones, and thanks for your kindness Bob.Hilary Scott, Northampton Chron and current head of journalism and media, University of Northampton
It was a privilege to work with Bob in the late 1990s when we were part of the team that sought to move the Guild of Editors forward in to what was to become the highly successful Society of Editors. Bob’s enthusiasm, talent and passion made for an unstoppable force that made the Society in to the force that it is today. Thank you Bob.Neil Fowler, Society of Editors President, 1999-2000
Bob was a unique character who was always encouraging, good humoured and he could see the future before others and had the hard news values that are critical if journalism is to fulfil its role. He had a particular interest in supporting reporters and editors in Northern Ireland through the challenges they faced. We will not see his like again. May he rest in peace and his family and friends be comforted that he had a life well lived.Dr Colm Murphy, Subject Leader in Media, Film and Journalism, Ulster University
Bob was a wonderful man and I will forever remember his warmth, kindness, friendship and humour during the years we worked together. My deepest condolences to Ellie, Anna, Andrew and Matthew.Claire Meadows, Society of Editors
Bob was such a key figure in the many battles the industry fought to defend a free and open Press and in establishing the Society of Editors as a force to be reckoned with, his contribution cannot be underestimated. He was always great company and as well as our many conversations about the industry we also enjoyed a natter about rugby, as the only two editors we knew of who played for Preston Grasshoppers.
He has been a great miss since his illness, and while his passing is a moment of great sadness for the industry, obviously it is even more so for his family.
They’re closing the bar now, Bob. Time to hit the hay.
God bless you.John McLellan, Director, Scottish Newspaper Society
As a former Editor in Bradford, York and Kendal, I worked with Bob on The Guild of Editors, the Parliamentary and Legal Committee and the Society of Editors. He was always a pillar of strength. He was always supportive and companionable. I particularly remember him leading me through the streets of London as we traipsed from one meeting to another. I floundered in his wake as he demonstrated his boundless energy as we rushed for a tube. His enthusiasm and commitment to the causes of Freedom of Information, the role of journalism and the media generally was unparalleled. Condolences to all who knew him, professionally and personally.Mike Glover
My dear friend, colleague, mentor and the most demanding taskmaster ever, has passed away. The space that he filled for so many of us, will never be replaced. This kindest, silliest, most proper, most obsessive workaholic, was quite simply an inspiration. We will always miss you Bob and I thank you for all the great times, late nights, early starts and constant edits and improvements. We all learnt perfectionism from you.
I remember my two year old daughter telling her nursery school teacher that I worked for God. She meant Bob. He laughed when I told him and said she had got it right first time and that I should consider myself very lucky! I do.
So many happy days.
Rest in peace, my lovely friend. Bob Satchwell 1948-2021
With love from Lyn, on behalf of Paul, Robyn, Krizia, Lily, Nelle, Nick, Hugo, Kyril, Kate, Liz and all the people and teams that worked with us, to try to deliver your vision of a free press and open and caring society.Lyn Disley, MagStar
I worked under Bob as a sports writer on the Cambridge Evening News. He was brash and did not suffer fools gladly but he was always fair and always fought for his staff. A great character, a great editor and I like to think a true friend.David Hallett
Dear Bob. I first met him in the late 1980s and our friendship continued from then. He invited me to help judge the various Press Awards he ran so admirably for so long. His knowledge of journalism and journalism was unparalleled. He was a shining example in the fight for press freedom and journalistic ethics. He introduced me to so many fellow journalists and helped me get hired for several freelance projects, including latterly launching a new English language daily in Kerala. His friendship, skills, hard work, love of journalism and sharp wit will all be sorely missed. RIP, Bob.Michael Crozier, Crozier Associates
Bob, such a gentleman. Kind and thoughtful with a cheeky sense of humour. A privilege to work for him. He had so much passion for the Society and what it stands for and for life in general. A sad loss.Angela Upton, Society of Editors
One of the outstanding journalists of his generation, and a great defender of our trade. Bob was passionate, inspiring, and always great fun. One of many memories was a Society of Editors event in Scotland where we were both speaking. I had rehearsed my PowerPoint presentation to death and it went tolerably well. Bob hadn’t prepared anything and I noticed him scribbling a few notes as I spoke. He gave a barnstorming, beautifully crafted speech, without referring to his notes once, and received a rapturous reception. A class act. God bless him.Neil Benson, Editors’ Code of Practice committee
Bob was an inspiration and a huge support to me personally. A true character with immense wit and wisdom, who will be sorely missed by anyone who knew him. He really cared about new reporters entering the industry and took the time to give talks, as well as give them meaningful networking opportunities at the Society of Editors conferences and beyond. I loved debating, working and laughing with Bob. Heartfelt condolences to his family.Roz McKenzie, PA Media
We hosted our first ISWNE conference in Madison, Wisconsin in 2001. Bob was the Greenslade Bursar that year. He and his family were absolutely delightful and thoroughly enjoyed the conference.
We didn’t see him again for several years, I believe it was in Coventry in 2011. Ten years had passed, and he expressed how much he enjoyed being part of the conference, especially the day in Lodi.
We will miss Bob! He was one of the “good ones.”
Rest in peace, dear friend.Jan & Bill Haupt, Former owners of the Lodi Enterprise, Lodi, Wisconsin
Behind the scenes, Bob had a big influence on my career, and I will always be grateful for his help and support. I was proud to call Bob a friend as well as a colleague, and his larger than life presence is sorely missed.Tony Jaffa, Jaffa Law
He will be fondly remembered by all at the Westminster Media Forum, and those who were lucky enough to catch some of his many valued contributions to our conferences.
Bob was always a sharp, effective advocate and communicator who drew on a wealth of experience. But more than that he always came through – whether in private and or in the spotlight – as an immensely thoughtful and kind man.
He will be widely missed.Peter Van Gelder, Westminster Media Forum
Bob Satchwell was a visionary giant of the British media.
An accomplished journalist and editor, he had the drive and foresight to transform the rather ‘clubbish’ former Guild of British Newspaper Editors, a largely regional gathering of newspaper editors, into the current Society of Editors, embodying editorial executives of the Press, broadcasting, online news outlets and media training organisations.
The fact that the Society is now routinely called upon by the national and regional media, and government, for comment on all aspects of media behaviour and legislation is a tribute to Bob’s tireless effort to give the media a unified voice of reason.
I was editor of the Northern Echo in 1999 when Bob helped to transform the old ‘Guild’ into the Society of Editors and proudly remain an Emeritus Member of the Society – an honour bestowed upon me by Bob – in my retirement. I served for many years on the Guild’s and Society’s Editorial Training Committee.
I saw Bob at work on many occasions over the years and marvelled at his ability to engage with vital influencers, from royalty, Prime Ministers and Cabinet secretaries to the police, armed forces, media and business executives and a myriad of others. He was hugely supportive of journalists of all ages and professional status and appeared to be able to give time to everybody.
Bob was also something of a legend at the late-night banter and debates held in conference hotel bars – always great company.
My thoughts are with his family at this very sad time. They and the British media have lost a friend and champion.Andrew Smith, Retired Editor
From the last of the trio who were the first regional journalists to win Journalist of the Year national award beating off the likes of John Pilger and Harold Evans
Hope you are sharing a pint or two with Barry Askew.
RIP BobDavid Graham, The last one
I knew Bob over many years, both with the Guild and its successor, the Society of Editors.
Bob was a passionate fighter for the freedom of the press, but he also was a caring man, who looked out for his friends and colleagues.
There will never be his like again.David Gledhill
Bob Satchwell’s living legacy will be the Society of Editors he founded and led for so many years in defending press freedom. So many fond memories of Bob both professionally and personally. Look forward to the Memorial Service planned for when the dark clouds of Covid are finally lifted.Paul Connew, Media Commentator, former Editor Sunday Mirror /deputy editor Daily Mirror and News of The World
Such sad news. Bob was so encouraging in the early days of the i, a real supporter when it was unclear whether we would prosper or go bust, entertaining, generous in his time, and of course in championing a free press especially in the dark days after Leveson he showed great leadership.Oliver Duff, Editor-in-Chief, i News
I was a naive 18 year old when I first met him in the glorious days of LSE in Autumn 68. He was General Secretary of the Students Union and a voice of reason. We did not want one of those. Despite that he stuck to his guns and got respect for it. Even handed then as for all of his life.
Then we crossed paths again when he became el supremo in the Society of Editors. He was hugely kind to me-inviting me to annual conferences and society events at large discounts to reflect my circs. Bob was the willing ringmaster at those. Always sociable company even when we disagreed which was not infrequent.That was a function of the alcohol we both consumed.
I was proud to call him a friend and distressed when he had his stroke. So much so that I told our mutual friend Sir Clive Jones that I did not want to see him in that state. I did not but sent him a postcard to cheer him up earlier this year.
I shall miss him. We all shall miss him.John Mair, Editor of 38 books on Journalism
Bob was a rarity – a man once met, never forgotten. He did immeasurable good for the newspaper industry – and all who knew him. I last saw him in the Guinness stand at The London Boat Show some years ago. His smile and laugh will be for ever with me. He was a true `giant’ in all senses. Cheers, Bob, I owe you one..Martin Edmunds, Former South Yorkshire weekly newspapers Editor
Many fond memories of Bob on our NW Guild of Editors weekends. Lovely caring man and talented journalist. Too few of the ‘old school’ hacks left. RIP Bob.Chris Daggett, Burnley Express
Very sad to hear of Bob’s passing.
He was a peerless advocate for the cause of press freedom in the meetings we had down the years with police , politicians and judges about issues of open justice. Always he fought for the reporter simply trying to do their job. His knowledge, experience and enthusiasm made a real difference in making the case for crime and court reporting.
He will be missed, for sure.
Rest in peace Bob
John Battle, ITN
The profession of journalism in the UK owes Bob a great deal to Bob for his tireless and passionate commitment to it. His legacy will live on in many of the initiatives and campaigns he led.Andy Cooper, Editor, Devon Life
I first met Bob in the 90’s as he strode the national stage as a dynamic force for good and a principled upholder of standards. He obviously loved being at the centre of things and he was very good at it: organising, hustling, encouraging and constantly enthusing about this project or that. I interviewed him countless times about issues big and small and always marvelled at his courtesy and availability. Such was Bob’s dedication to the causes he rarely kept office hours and he inspired great loyalty in those around him. Laterally, our friendship was celebrated with quiet pints by the Cam (he had the good sense to have his HQ next to the best pub in Cambridge) or a rare day at Newmarket races. A journalist’s journalist.Chris Mann, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
Bob was a great editor but it was with the SoE that he became a massive influence, fighting for journalism and journalists. He was fine company too … usually in the bar after press awards events. RIP Bob. You will be missed.Peter Sands, Sands Media Services
Bob was not only a doughty supporter of a free press and defender of the rights of journalists, he was an example, an inspiration, and an ever-supportive friend. I am proud to have known and worked with him, and grateful for all he taught me.Mike Dodd, Former Legal Editor, PA Media
Bob had an enviable pedigree as a journalist, and was the most staunch protector of Journalism, but he was also incredible generous with his time in helping develop those at the start of their careers in the industry. He had boundless enthusiasm for a great story and was always the best company. He will be sadly missed.Alison Gow, audience and content director North West, Reach plc
I was hugely saddened to learn of Bob’s passing. He was, without doubt, one of the great characters in the world of journalism during his five decades working as a journalist, editor and campaigner. Always generous, always kind and always up for a drink or three! We will all miss him very much. My deepest sympathies to his beloved family.
A class act. Straight-talking, no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is. I hope his wicked wit will be engaging a new audience in a better place. Cheers Bob.Mark Wray, Former Head of BBC Training & MD of PA Training
I knew that I speak on behalf of the Master and all members of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers in saying that we are all going to miss Bob hugely. The newspaper industry has lost a great champion and a much-loved friend.William Alden, Stationers and Newspaper Makers' Company
Persuasive, encouraging, cajoling – Bob was a great leader of the Society of Editors and a huge support to me personally during my presidential year back in the day. Thank you Bob and rest in peace.Liz Page
Bob was a lovely man, and a passionate champion and (when necessary) defender of a free and fair press. Many times in my career in press regulation, when confronted by a particularly challenging or complex issue, I have found that Bob was there years before me, thinking and talking about it. He had a rare talent for bringing people together; the continuing work of the Society of Editors is an eloquent testimony to that. He is very much missed.Charlotte Dewar, CEO, Independent Press Standards Organisation
Bob was a popular and well-loved and much respected man and journalist – and deservedly so.
I first heard his name when I was an aspiring newsdesk man in Bradford (or was it Edinburgh?) working for my mentor Terry Quinn, who spoke highly of his mate at the Cambridge Evening News.
It was only years later, when I became an editor at Brighton (more than 20 years ago now) that I actually met the great man. I can’t say I knew him very well, but in my experience he was witty, intelligent, warm, supportive – and never panicked (well, occasionally). All fine attributes for a journalist and then to run the Society of Editors.
When I was in my “pomp” (I use the word advisedly), he once offered me the chance to be president for a year but I declined as I was so busy (still am). He was very good about it and later found me a place on the legal committee, which I enjoyed thoroughly as I was then with some “big boys” from the nationals. I will always be grateful.
Bob was also very close to my first editor, Geoff Elliot, who thought a lot of him, as did Ian Murray, his successor at the society who freely admits he learned a lot from Bob.
I will lift a glass to him tonight. Cheers, Bob.
Bob was admired and respected by everyone who was lucky enough to get to know him, and he was a personal friend of many of us. Bob’s spirit and love for the news business was only matched by his commitment to fighting for press freedom and his personal loyalty to all of us. We will miss him greatly.Doug Wills, Chair, London Press Club; Editor Emeritus, Evening Standard
I knew and worked alongside Bob in various guises for nearly 30 years. His was a personality that filled a room; he was a wonderful, plain-talking bundle of energy who played a pivotal role during some of the darkest times our industry has faced. I am grateful to him for the assistance he so generously gave me at various points in my career, and will miss our many chats on the phone or over probably far too many pints. Frankly, I can’t believe he’s gone, and will always consider it an enormous privilege to have known him.Anthony Longden
I was so sorry to hear of Bob’s death. He was a giant in the world of journalism but also a kind friend and a huge support to me throughout my career.Fiona Phillips, Newsquest
I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Bob Satchwell who I worked with closely during my time chairing the Select Committee in Parliament and then in Government. Bob was a tireless defender of press freedom and a fantastic advocate for the industry. He made a huge contribution to promoting responsible journalism in the UK and his wise counsel will be sorely missed.Rt Hon John Whittingdale OBE MP, Minister for Media and Data, DCMS
My sincerest condolences. Bob Satchwell gave me the inspiration to attend annual conferences and pick up knowledge to improve my news network.
I will remember his friendly manner and professional advice. He was an excellent mentor indeed.Juanita Brock, South Atlantic Islands News Team
Bob’s successful battle to defend press freedom in the wake of Leveson will be his enduring legacy to the industry and to the country. But those of us privileged enough to know Bob the man as well as Bob the doughty campaigner will also remember the huge sense of fun he brought to the work of the SoE and all the events with which it was associated during his tenure. Happy memories indeed.Paul Linford, Publisher, HoldtheFrontPage
Bob was a towering figure in our industry. At a time when Bob always seemed to be on the radio fighting the corner for press freedom I remember being in my office and a young reporter saying to me in total awe “Bob Satchwell is on the phone for you”: more impressed than if it had been the Archbishop of Canterbury. He deserved that respect.
And who can forget Bob at 3am in the morning handing out sandwiches in the bar after the Guild/Society of Editors’ Conference dinner, asking if you thought the Conference had gone well? It always had.
God bless you, Bob.Moira Sleight, Methodist Recorder Editor
It seems impossible that Bob’s unquenchable enthusiasm and unbridled generosity could ever cease to be part of our lives. His illness was distressing, his passing devastating, but we will ever remember a good humoured true friend who could make each day our paths crossed one of sunshine and laughter. God bless you, Bob.Bill Hagerty and Liz Vercoe, Chairman emeritus, British Journalism Review; writer and editor
I was lucky enough to be involved with the Guild of Editors when Bob was in the process of transforming it into the more dynamic and relevant Society. There was never a dull moment working with Bob! He brought the drive and energy of a proper newspaper editor to the business of promoting and defending our industry and freedom of expression. We were also part of the team that lobbied Home Secretary Jack Straw during the drafting of the FOI Act. As you would expect, Bob was tenacious in pushing for maximum transparency. He was a great ambassador for the media and, sadly, one of a disappearing breed.
Bob was a great supporter of the regional press and was at the helm as editor of the Cambridge Evening News at a time when the paper was at its best. A huge character and always good company to share a beer or three with. Fly high Bob!David Fordham, Iliffe News and Media
Journalism has lost one of its great characters and champions. Veterans of the Scottish Guild/Society salute Bob’s memory and mourn his passing.Bill Livingstone, Past chairman, Guild of Editors (Scotland)
Hugely enjoyed meeting up with Bob to discuss and be advised on how to communicate whilst working on a number of projects which he brought great insight to. Thank you.Edward Iliffe, Iliffe Media
Such fun we had amid the sorrows. And now our sometimes-exciting professional friendship is over at last. In truth it passed by a few years ago when Bob had his tragic aneurism that robbed him of ability to communicate meaningfully. Until then there had hardly been a dull moment, though plenty of sad ones borne bravely.
He called himself a shy man. He found stress difficult to endure. Think of those two things and wonder at the strength of the man doing what he did.
He wouldn’t have wanted editorship to end so early. He certainly wouldn’t have wanted his beloved wife Michele to have to cope with illness, transplants and, too soon, failing health and premature death. Somehow, without any grumble I ever heard, he managed it all while carrying the baton from Cambridge with such vigour.
Bob spiced it all with his irrepressible determination to wring the most out of everything. He was the journalist’s journalist, never content until it had all been won, the story told.
Our friendship grew, of course, out of the common bond of editorship. But the high point came working together on the transition from the outworn Guild to the new Society.
That included the wonderful fun weekends of Plofs, the P&L Old Farts Society, a small band of ex-chairmen and one welcome fellow traveller; our wives too. Such memories, if only over-indulgence allowed them.
From the moment I accepted the coming presidency after Bob and told him what I planned, he stood four-square with the ambition. That later he accepted the challenge of leading the new Society and overcame it with such distinction has given him the right to be remembered for all that was achieved.
But more than all this there was Bob’s selfless kindness to a friend. From soon after the moment of my own lost editorship, Bob was on the train to lend his support over two unforgettable days; no change of clothes, no razor and plenty of telephoned apologies to Michele for his sudden absence. It has to be said that Bob would not allow any suggestion of sobriety as we mischievously planned the embarrassment of those who had done me harm. Friends don’t come better than that. The last time I saw him in his care home I don’t think he recognised me. That I do not want to remember.
I am so very sad that we have lost Bob, and had visited him in Cambridge after his devastating stroke. Bob was a wise, thoughtful and kind advisor and partner of the Media Trust over many years. He counselled charities on how to work with the media, helped us set up the Community Newswire, and gave a platform to charities and diverse communities at SoE events and conferences. A great loss, and my sincere condolences to all his family, who cared for him so brilliantly over the last years.Caroline Diehl, Executive Chair, Together TV
Bob was a phenomenon. He defied gravity and time, seemingly squeezing 28 hours out of a 24-hour day on a regime fuelled by willpower, hard work, hope – and pub lunches. His relentless energy confirmed the Society of Editors as the UK’s champion of media freedom. In public, he was its voice. In private, he was great fun and a warm friend. Such a loss.Ian Beales, Editor, Western Daily Press: 1980-2001
Very sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. Bob was a true gentleman and he will be missed by all that knew him. My condolences to his friends and family.Madhav Chinnappa
Bob was a tireless champion of journalism, journalists and editors, and a great friend of the NCTJ. He served the NCTJ faithfully as a trustee for nine years and was a passionate supporter of journalism standards and the Journalism Diversity Fund. Bob was always there, generous in his support and so encouraging throughout my career. Now I really miss his honest down-to-earth advice, his camaraderie, love of mischief and the latest industry gossip. Heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at the SoE.Joanne Butcher, NCTJ
Bob was always an incredibly generous supporter of me and my work. Before my working life moved into PR in the marine market, I was a Fleet Street journalist (Daily Telegraph) in the 70s.
Bob seemed to recognise that I stood apart for my journalistic writing ability and he turned up to pretty much every single press event I ever hosted in the marine leisure industry over 20 years or so. There were lots!
As publisher of All at Sea, Bob used to phone me on the penultimate day of Cowes Week or the Round the Island Race, for whom I was the Press Officer, and he’d literally ‘hold the front page‘ for my image and last day report!
We cared about each other and I felt that was special… but the truth was that I think Bob probably made everyone feel like that!Peta Stuart-Hunt, PR Works
Bob was a true friend of journalists and the media in Northern Ireland. He brought the Society of Editors annual conference to Belfast on two occasions and held an abiding interest in the challenges facing journalists in this part of the UK.
As a past president of the Society, as a colleague of Bob’s on the Defence, Press and Broadcasting advisory committee and the National Council for the Training of Journalists, I knew him well and shared many a sociable occasion with him. My abiding memory is of a hugely energetic ambassador for all of us in the media world. I can think of no one who gave so much of his time over so many years to our interests. Very sad that his immense contribution to our industry was ended so tragically.
CEN was my last job in newspapers before defecting to PR in 1990.
Such a great newspaper to work on under Bob’s editorship.
But most importantly for me, he was the best editor i ever worked with in terms of my NUJ activity.
Yes, of course we had our run ins, but he respected my position, as I did his.
He was always fair in agreeing my time off for union duties…. which is more than can be said for some of my previous editors.
Bob Satchwell was a kind, family man. He was a force to be reckoned with when it came to upholding media freedom and the public’s right to know. The news industry owes him a huge debt of gratitude. He helped so many organisations punch above their weight.
He was already SOE director when I first got to know him the late 90’s. Sometimes grumpy, often loud, stayed up until all hours at conference, but never late for breakfast – good fun with a sharp wit.
Bob would know the conference running order to the minute, but would change his mind at the drop of a hat and expect everyone else to know his plans. His determination attracted prominent speakers.
He was in his element lobbying Government ministers, chairing debates, sounding off on the radio, sweet-talking proprietors, bossing committees and he loved knowing the inside story.
Our guest speaker at the Manchester conference in 2007 was the DG of MI5. It had taken months of confidential negotiations to land Jonathan Evans. It had to remain secret until the day of the speech – and Bob made sure the secret was secure until the moment Evans walked on stage. He was trusted by those in positions of influence, and well liked. The respect for him was constant.
He always had a yarn to tell, often about his days on the Lancashire Evening Post or a sailing escapade on his yacht. He even managed to find time to edit a yachting paper.
We all miss him. I hope there is a memorial service at St Bride’s.
My dealings with Bob were marked by kindliness on his part and he helped me out with contacts and advice on stories I was pursuing. He was a journalist and I called on his tradecraft perhaps more often than I should. He was helping me out on a particularly sensitive matter when he became very ill in the Far East. He was also fun to be with. I met him at the Irish Embassy in London over a few drinks on several occasions.Kieran Fagan
I worked with Bob during his 9 years as a key, supportive and influential member of the Defence and Security Media Advisory (DSMA) Committee. I saw first-hand his skill and determination to balance the requirements of a free media with the need to maintain the necessary arrangements for national security. He was a mentor to me; supportive, generous, skilled, a clear leader in his field and one whose contribution will be sorely missed. On behalf of the DSMA secretariat, I send heartfelt condolences to his family.Geoffrey Dodds, Secretary, Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee
My Dad taught Bob at Lancaster Royal Grammar School and was delighted to see how his career took off. I can still remember Bob’s sense of fun and warm presence even though I was really young when he was at the school. So sorry to hear he has gone. Sending condolences from our family to his.Patrick Tissington
Sleep well my old friend, your old stroller colleagues and I will lift a glass to you in more suitable times dad brierleyKeith W Brierley, an old friend and teammate
Bob was an impressive contributor. His passing is indeed a great loss.John Leake, LRGS and St John’s College, Cambridge
I worked with Bob during his 9 years as a key, supportive and influential member of the Defence and Security Media Advisory (DSMA) Committee. I saw first-hand his skill and his determination to balance the requirements of a free media with the need to maintain the necessary arrangements for national security. He was the one to whom others turned for his open, honest and clear views, often on the most intractable issues. I relied on him hugely for his sage advice. Bob’s impact on the DSMA notice system will not be forgotten and his presence on the Committee will be sorely missed. As will his warm and entertaining company. On behalf of the official and media members of the DSMA Committee, I offer my condolences to the family and friends of one of the great contributors both to a free media and to national security.Dominic Wilson, Chair of the Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee (DSMA)
Values, dignity, character, personality – Bob had it all. A positive force on everyone he came into contact with. Once met, not only never forgotten but someone you looked forward to seeing again and again. A good man, through and through. Rest in peace, my friend.Simon Burton
Bob’s support to me and other colleagues during the darkest of days in 2012/13/14/15 was magnificent. Bob was always there with advice, encouragement and support when the chips were down and went into the witness box to successfully champion public interest journalism. Here’s to you Bob – one of the very best.Graham Dudman, News Associates journalism school and former managing editor, The Sun
A huge supporter of Cambridge business and a sympathetic and empathetic ear or publicist on important issues of the day. I remember so many happy days including when we (E&Y) sponsored his inaugural Cambridge Business Awards, his “Oscars” and the grand banquet; great fun and a recurring annual event I much enjoyed as well as many business breakfasts with challenging debates. When I left to join Marshall he even made me promise to give him the exclusive if Marshall ever floated but sadly when it happened in 2015 he was no longer at CEN.
Bob was a lovely man and great fun to be with. A lasting memory will be Elena’s wedding in Krakow where we spent a very jolly and alcoholic few days with plenty of good food celebrating.
Bob, RIP and thank you for everything you did for me and for Cambridge.
A towering media figure, but unlike some who fit that description, Bob was modest, friendly, generous and perceptive.
His local knowledge and involvement were impressive, and hugely helpful.
He will be much missed in Girton and in Cambridge.
Bob was very different to most in the world of senior editors, especially in those early years of the SoE. Many older members could be very ‘above’ new editors, as if you weren’t quite qualified to be in ‘their’ club. Not Bob. He was immediately friendly, and was at pains to approach you directly at every event, especially in those early years, making you feel that your presence and any contribution was as good as anyone’s. Now he’s gone, I realise that I didn’t actually know him that well, as there are so many individual stories and fond memories that I’m reading for the first time in these tributes. But whenever I met him he made me feel comfortable, at home and worthy of talking to, buying me a pint (in return for one!) and sharing a joke, before wandering off to make someone else feel welcome. That’s a real skill, and Bob should be rightly remembered for it. Cheers, Bob.Steve Dyson, Former editor, now media consultant
I worked under Bob’s editorship on the Cambridge Evening News for five years from 1984 – 1989 as a business writer. It was a very happy time in which I grew and learned a lot. For a year or two before I left the News, I was also mother of the chapel for the NUJ. Despite the inevitably adversarial nature of some of our discussions, it was typically decent of Bob to still turn up at my leaving do(!) I was quite touched at the time. Bob radiated positivity and was always encouraging with ideas. His boundless energy will be my abiding memory of him. I was very sad to hear of his passing.Penny Miles, Former Reporter, Cambridge Evening News
I first knew Bob during my time as editor of the Peterborough Evening Telegraph when he edited Cambridgeshire’s other daily title – the Cambridge Evening News. Later I served alongside him on the editors’ code committee and the NCTJ board. He always had strong views, always spoke his mind, and you always felt he was on your side as he formed and took the Society of Editors from strength to strength. The industry changed dramatically during his time – and Bob’s tireless efforts to hold it together were widely appreciated by many editors.David Rowell
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