Gavin Schmidt

Gavin Schmidt, who has died aged 45, played a crucial role in the recent development of the sports desk of The Daily Telegraph.

Schmidt
joined the Telegraph in August 2001 and made an immediate impression
with his technical flair. He proved invaluable when the paper made the
transition to the new DTI publishing system last summer.

Brian
Stater, chief sub on the Telegraph sports desk, said: “Gavin was unlike
a lot of us in that he absolutely relished the challenge of new ways of
working. He was a member of a brilliant small team who trained early on
the new system and helped resolve many difficulties in its introduction
to the paper. He was always wonderfully helpful to anyone who struggled
to get to grips with it.

Gavin is an enormous loss to us.”

Schmidt was born in Johannesburg and began in journalism on the Benoni City Times and the Boksburg Advertiser.

He
was called up for national service and his career in the South African
army included a spell in command of an armoured car. This always came
as a surprise to Telegraph colleagues, who knew him as a timid driver
who refused to venture on the M25 as he considered it “too dangerous”.

He
had been chief sports sub on both Business Day and the Sunday Star in
Johannesburg. He became deputy sports editor, then sports editor, on
the Sunday Independent, one of the leading titles in the country.

Rodney
Hartman, his boss on the Independent who was also a close friend, said:
“He was a production guru that sports editors dream of. An idea had
scarcely passed through my head when, there on Gavin’s terminal, it
would be mapped out in exactly the layout I had envisaged.”

Hartman
also recalled Schmidt’s days on the rugby field, where he performed as
a front row forward with the Union club of Johannesburg.

Schmidt
and his wife Lorna moved to England in 1998 and he worked on the
Mirror, The Independent and The Guardian before joining the Telegraph.

His
love of rugby found new expression at Worthing Rugby Club, where he and
Lorna became enthusiastic supporters. Their children, Kirstyn, 14;
Kyran, 11; and Kyle, eight; all serve as “ball boys” for the club’s
first XV fixtures.

Schmidt was diagnosed with brain cancer in October and died last month.

Brian Stater

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