‘Hi Macca, I might have a story for you.’Inevitably the first words of the day from Fozzy when I was producing Meridian Tonight. He was one of the first reporters I met when I joined Meridian back in 1992, as we prepared to take over from TVS. Within 10 seconds I knew I liked him – in fact it was impossible not to like Fozzy. He had the sort of personality that always made you feel good about life. If you were a bit fed up then 10 minutes with him, preferably over a beer, and the world always seemed a much better place.
He was a journalists’ journalist; schooled in newspapers and radio before he made the move to television, he never stopped trying to unearth stories. Rather than sit and wait to be spoon-fed, he’d be on the phone talking to people, trying to find things out. He had excellent contacts, particularly within the police, and an easy going ability both to win a person’s confidence and to tell their story. Television can do funny things to people, giving them an inflated, unrealistic, view of their importance in life. Fozzy never suffered such delusions and was the same both on and off screen.
In his later days with Meridian he became the ‘And finally…’specialist, doing the light-hearted items at the end of the programme – the ones the viewers always remembered. No matter what you asked him to do you could guarantee he would make you laugh, but would never offend.
Even when his illness took hold he refused to be downhearted and insisted that Shepherd Neame and Guinness were ideal recovery foods. Just before Christmas I had a beer with him and he met one of my sons for the first time. Afterwards my son said: ‘What a nice man”. That was Fozzy and I can’t help feeling if there is a heaven he will have made St Peter chuckle as he passed through the Pearly Gates.
Gone, but never forgotten. Cheers Foz.