Bill Tucker

Veteran journalist Bill Tucker has died, aged 89, a week after being admitted to Colchester General Hospital.

Journalism was Tucker’s life and a passion he continued right up until the end.

Following in the footsteps of four of his relatives, who notched up similarly remarkable records in the business, he began his career after leaving Exeter School.

Born in Yorkshire, it was journalism, briefly interrupted by a stint in the Army, which took him to Colchester in 1953 via the Warwick Advertiser, Paignton Observer, Torbay Herald and Express and the Walthamstow Guardian.

During the war, Tucker kept his interest in reporting going by running a newspaper which was said to have stirred things up at the time and caused changes in tank training.

He applied for a job with Essex County Newspapers but the particular attraction to the job with the Essex County Standard was the house that went with it – an incentive offered to senior reporters at the time.

On arrival in Colchester he soon made his mark within the newspaper world and during his career he worked on thousands of different stories from murders to the local ‘Oyster Feasts’.

He also covered the building of Bradwell Nuclear Power Station and was well known for the university column he wrote directed at students during what was a period of international unrest.

He was awarded the MBE in 1979 for services to the Colchester community and more recently the freedom of the Colchester borough in 1996 and Essex County Newspapers man of the year in 1997.

It was just after he was awarded his MBE that Tucker retired from Essex County Newspapers but he continued to be involved, writing a column for the Colchester Express right up until he was taken into hospital for the last time.

Essex County Newspapers’ editor-in-chief Irene Kettle, who knew Tucker for 30 years, said: "Bill was a gentleman and a true professional.

"It is a mark of the man that he afforded me as much respect and courtesy when I first met him as when I later became his boss.

"Hundreds of people in this town owe him a debt of gratitude for his charity work, his insight and his humanity.

"He was one of the oldest working journalists in the country. He wrote his final Tucker’s Topics for the Express and arranged for it to be delivered to the newsroom despite his failing health.

"We will be running the column this week as a mark of respect. He would have wanted it that way."

Colchester MP Bob Russell said: "Bill was a truly remarkable man, the like of which I doubt we shall ever see again.

"He epitomised what a good journalist should be, fair, objective, accurate. He was the consummate newspaper man," he said.

"I owe a great deal to Bill. For the first three years of my own career in journalism, as a trainee reporter, he was the chief reporter. I learnt a lot from him.

"While I mourn the passing of a true friend, one who could praise as well as criticise, I pay tribute to a man who lived life to the full – and who in so doing did so much for Colchester and its people in so many years through his voluntary work with many organisations and through his role as a professional journalist.

Tucker was one of the founder members of Colchester Hospital Television, serving residential homes and hospitals in Colchester and north east Essex, and was made president of the service in 2000.

Station manager Paul Diggens said: "Bill used his creative mind to come up with all types of programme ideas. If anything big happened news-wise, Bill would be on the phone to make sure we’d got it covered locally. CHTV, its small staff and its viewers, owe a large debt to Bill just for being Bill."

He leaves two daughters, six grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Jeremy Price

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