Tuesday, 26 June 2012

They were our halcyon days

WHEN old journalists get together, stand by for a late night!

The last dinner guests at the excellent Wheelwright Inn, Colyford, on Friday evening had long gone by which time we were deep into coversation about whether local newspapers will survive.

We all had a different view. By we I mean me and two of the best reporters I have worked with over a career spanning nearly 50 years - Geoff Baker and Mark Hollands.

I’ve lost count of the young reporters that have worked for me during that time but these two were top of the crop.

It’s over 30 years since we last worked together during my first editorship at the Sidmouth Herald.

But one thing we did agree upon was that they were definitely our halcyon days.

Geoff went on to work on the entertainments desk for the Daily Star, followed by 15 years as Paul McCartney’s head of PR; Mark emigrated to Australia where he worked as foreign editor on The Australian and then went into the dot.com world followed by a series of top jobs in the media which has enabled him to retire at 47!

He was back in the Sidmouth area catching up on family and friends.

Mark joined me as a fresh faced cub reporter at the age of 16 on the princely sum of £23 a week.

Both were filled with ambition  in our fun-filled Herald days and both ended up at the top of the tree in their incredible careers.

They both spoke with great affection of their days on the Herald and were kind enough to say that their time under my tutelege had an enormous infuence on their lives.

Needless to say, I’m enormously proud of both of them and their considerable achievements.

Geoff is now back living in Lyme, having penned a brilliant book about the rock business. Last week he wrote a incisive piece on McCartney’s 70th birthday for the Daily Mirror.

Mark returns to his family in Oz to enjoy the good life and concentrate on writing crime thrillers, promising to return again soon.

GREAT sadness, especially among my age group, following the death of Sue Bounds in Axminster.

I  grew up with Sue and went to the same school in Lyme Regis.  We knocked around as youngsters and she went on to marry Les Bounds, my big football buddy in Axminster.  They were the perfect couple. We did not meet that often in the intervening years but when we did she always asked after her home town.

Sue had fought her battle with cancer with great bravery and fortitide. Les told me at the recent dinner at Sector Lane that things were not looking good but her death still came as a shock to all who knew and loved her.

She had a delightful, quirky character and in our younger years she was always the life and soul of the party.

Our thoughts are with Les and her two sons, Jamie  and Adam, and all Sue’s family.

She was a very special lady.

Rain sinks festival for first time in 18 years

ME and my big mouth, or should I say clumsy pen!  Like many others, I got suckered into thinking summer had just arrived in my page three From the Editor’s Chair editorial last week and was saying how much I was looking forward to the Axe Vale Festival.

The sunshine lasted no more than a couple of days before the rains returned and for the first time in 18 years the showground at Gammons Hill is so wet that the festival - one of the most popular and enjoyable one-day shows in Devon - has been cancelled.

The hard working committee behind the festival - led this year by Claire Morgan - have coped with inclement weather on a number of occasions in the past but have always managed to overcome. This year was different, such has been the verocity of the rain this week on an already soaking wet site. There was no hope of it going ahead.

Show or no show, perhaps this is as good a time to reflect on what an important role the Axe Vale Festival has played in helping worthy causes in and around Axminster. Since that very first show in 1994 the festival has raised nearly £300,000 with £186,000 going to the running costs of the  Flamingo Pool in Axminster and a further £111,000 in donations to other groups and charities. Last year Axminster Hertitage benefited to the tune of £20,000.

The organisers will have been mortified by having to call off the festival, such an important part of the summer scene in the Axe Valley.

Next year’s show will return bigger and better over the weekend of June 22nd-23rd.  Put it in your diary now.

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