Colin Birch

Campaigning journalist at forefront of life in Windsor

A
much-loved journalist who has been at the centre of life in and around
Windsor and Slough for 35 years, has died after a long battle against
cancer.

Colin Birch, 60, died in Thames Valley Hospice in Hatch Lane, Windsor, on New Year’s Day.

Ironically,
in the early 1980s he had been at the forefront of a campaign started
by our sister paper, The Leader, to raise money to set up a hospice in
the town.

Colin had been at the forefront of events in the town
since 1974 when he started work at The Express, a paper he returned to
in recent years.

Back copies of the Express in 1977 show him
standing with workmen on a building site that was later to turn into
King Edward Court, while the accompanying article gave readers an
incisive insight into how their town was about to develop.

But he
grew up in Rotherham, Yorkshire, starting his career on the local
paper, the Rotherham Advertiser, before going on to the Sheffield
Morning Telegraph.

After moving south, he began work at the
Windsor Express in 1974, later working for other local papers and as a
freelance for a news agency, regularly contributing stories to the
national papers.

Colleague Chris Patching, a former editor of the
Maidenhead Advertiser, who worked with Colin on the Leader, said:
“Colin was one of the provincial journalistic greats.

“He was
equally comfortable interviewing everyone from a mayor of the royal
borough, to a high-flyer in the business world, to the proverbial man
in the street.

“Colin had an uncanny knack of regularly providing front-page scoops.

His contacts book read like a who’s who of the good and the great.

“He was my best man and my son’s godfather, and above all, my family’s best friend.”

Colin’s
ability to mix with everyone was well illustrated when he lived in
Datchet in a house full of journalists. A surprise guest one night was
world snooker champion Terry Griffiths, fresh from playing a
demonstration match in Slough. He amazed everyone by asking for a cup
of tea and as Colin memorably wrote in an article about the evening: “I
fought my way through the beer cans in the kitchen and reached for the
Typhoo.”

Colin was a keen sports lover whose heroes were
snooker’s Hurricane Higgins and jockey Lester Piggott. He loved horse
racing and was a regular at Windsor on a Monday evening.

He leaves wife Manuela with whom he would have shared their fourth wedding anniversary in April.

Express Editor, Paul Thomas, said: “Colin was a journalist and a man of integrity. As a reporter he was impeccable.

“His
shorthand was exact, his notebook immaculate, his contacts book packed
and his stories honed to accurate and entertaining perfection.

“But I will remember him as a warm and giving friend who took so many young reporters under his wing.

“In so many ways he was the father of the office. This industry has a lost a true great.”

The funeral takes place on Tuesday, 24 January at 11.45am at St Edward’s Roman Catholic Church in Alma Road, Windsor.

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