Colleagues toast National News founder Mike Doran's retirement from journalism after SWNS buyout

Generations of journalists toasted National News press agency founder Mike Doran on his retirement from journalism last night.

He was presented by colleagues with a bust of Lenin, in mocking allusion to his left of centre politics, and a pair of Arsenal FC slippers.

After spending time travelling and working as a volunteer for Amnesty International, Doran, 61, stumbled into journalism at the relatively late age of 27 in true ‘Boot’ fashion, a rugby one to be precise.

A keen player of the oval-shaped ball game at the time, Doran spotted an advert  from a sports agency looking for rugby correspondents to cover matches.

At an England and Wales match he met a reporter who had just left Central News agency, which mainly covered courts in the London area. Doran applied for and got the vacant job.

Then in 1988, Doran branched off from Central to set up National News with partners Bill Bloom and Nick Haycock as a rival to Fleet Street News Agency.

Starting out in a crumbling office above a kebab shop in Goodge Street, Central London, the agency thrived and moved to offices in Farringdon two years later.

Doran swapped jeans, T-shirt and trainers for a suit when he joined the Evening Standard newsdesk in 1998, but returned to National two years later to run the news operation with agency partner Jim Leffman, and reportedly never changed his trainers again.

The agency was bought out by South West News Service(SWNS) 18 months ago and Doran and Leffman continued to work there.

Scores of journalists who came through the ranks at National were present at the Crown Tavern, close to the agency’s current offices in Clerkenwell, to see Doran off.

They included Bill Bloom and present Sky News director of content  Cristina Nicolotti Squires, who started out her career as a newsdesk assistant in the Goodge Street office.

Also present were Jon Ungoed-Thomas,  chief reporter of the Sunday Times, ex-Daily Mirror political editor Bob Roberts, Mike Sullivan and Tom Pettifer, crime correspondents for The Sun and Mirror respectively, Daily Telegraph special correspondent Hayley Dixon and freelances Dennis Rice and Matt Drake.

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