Jerry Clarke: sports journalist and broadcaster in Cornwall

Award-winning journalist and broadcaster Jerry Clarke has died, aged 64, after suffering a stroke on a recent trip to the US.

The jovial Jerry, a big favourite with listeners to BBC Radio Cornwall and Pirate FM, was born in Bristol and educated at King’s School, Taunton.

He did his national service in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and began his journalistic career on the West Briton at Truro, before working for trade magazines in London, including Press Gazette.

On his return to Cornwall he had a brief association with Camborne RFC, running its Cherry and Whites magazine, before becoming a taxi driver. He returned to journalism as a sub-editor and colourful rugby writer for the Western Morning News, covering Penryn and his beloved Redruth Albany.

In the late Seventies, he sparkled as sports editor of the Falmouth, Camborne-Redruth and Helston Packet newspapers.

As well as reporting outdoor sports, he gave unprecedented coverage to pub darts, writing under the name of Tops. He won a national award for his vivid account of the day that little Constantine eliminated Cornish cricket giants Troon from the National Village Cup. His career scaled new heights when he became sports editor of the newly established BBC Radio Cornwall.

Jerry’s wit, bonhomie, enthusiasm and encouragement of all sports and their participants, in particular the disabled, won him a legion of fans.

His happiest moments were in the late Eighties and early Nineties when Cornwall’s rugby players dominated a county championship which may have been shunned by England’s élite, but was given maximum attention by the ebullient Jerry. He contributed daily bulletins and saturation matchday coverage as the team ventured to all corners of England. He made music records, co-wrote the book Tales of Twickenham and was publicity officer for Trelawny’s Army Supporters Club.

He was among 40,000 fervent Cornish fans who packed Twickenham on a never-to-be-forgotten day in 1991, when they pulled off an extraordinary victory against favourites Yorkshire to win the county championship for the first time since 1908.

Jerry and his commentator partner, David Martin, won a national Sony Radio Award for the excellence of their work. When the time came in the late Nineties for Jerry to move on from BBC Radio Cornwall, his skills were snapped up by Pirate FM and his original employer, the West Briton, which he served in the Redruth office.

Jerry is survived by his daughter and his partner, Linda.

©Western Morning News

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