Barry Stocks, a former editor of the Lytham St Annes Express has died, after a three-year battle with cancer, aged 63.
Barry, a Blackpool resident, had taken early retirement in 1992 after 13 years at the helm of the Lytham St Annes Express in order to fulfil his long-held ambition to white water raft down the five great rivers of the American West with his wife, Barbara.
Over the next eight years they travelled all over the Rocky Mountain states of Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Utah and Idaho.
Barry began his career at 16 in his native Yorkshire on the Dewsbury Reporter, and after National Service with the RAF on Cyprus he became the youngest-ever chief reporter on the Batley News at 22.
He then came to the Fylde, working as a reporter on The Evening Gazette, Blackpool, for eight years before becoming editor of the resort’s first free paper, the Blackpool Journal. Subsequently he was a sub-editor on the Lancashire Evening Post, and in 1979 was appointed editor of the Lytham St Annes Express.
A man who loved fun, one of his most popular creations was the humourous columnist Taproom Ted, who fulminated on the ways of the world in the four-ale bar over “a firkin of foaming lotion.”
For 17 years he also worked at weekends as a sports sub-editor on the Sunday Express in Manchester.
He was a former chairman and secretary of the Blackpool branch of the National Union of Journalists. Barry is survived by Barbara, a fellow journalist whom he married in 1987, and his sons from his first marriage, Russell and Ashley.
Fylde MP Michael Jack paid tribute to Barry. Mr Jack said: “He was a tremendous character and did a very good job. The character of any newspaper reflects the character of the editor and without doubt Barry Stocks put the interests of the Fylde and the readership of the Lytham St Annes Express first.
“He never failed to report the real issues and never let public figures off the hook while at the same time making sure that all sides were heard. I’m sorry that a real character from the world of journalism has gone.”
Former leader of Fylde Borough Council, Coun Anne Smith added: “He was one of the best campaigning editors we have had, and he was always interested in seeing the Fylde thrive. He was a smashing person to work with and was very supportive of the local council.”