Keith Parker

Former paratroopers joined journalists to pay tribute at the funeral
of Keith Parker, popular assistant editor of the Brentwood Gazette
Series, who died after a short illness, aged 52.

Members of the
Parachute Regimental Association mounted a guard of honour and lowered
banners as the ‘Last Post’ was played over the coffin draped in the
Union Flag.

Keith, acting editor of the Gazette since the summer,
until he was taken ill late in November, was a keen member of the
Territorial Army, serving in the Paras and as an officer in the Royal
Anglian Regiment.

He joined the Gazette in August 2000, and was the then-editor Roger Watkins’s first appointment.

Watkins,
now editor-in-chief of Northcliffe’s titles in Kent and Sussex, said:
“This is such a shock because Keith was such a fit, active, vital man.

He
was also a committed, loyal and hard-working number two and helped to
guide the Gazette through some successful years, during which we won
several awards.

“We shall all miss his good humour and his positive ‘can do’ attitude. He leaves a gap that will be hard to fill.”

Keith
began his career as a sports reporter in Hertfordshire in 1970 but
moved to the Evening Echo in Essex three years later as a news reporter.

He
spent 25 years at the Echo and became head of special publications
before moving to the Yellow Advertiser, where he rose to become deputy
editor.

He also worked at The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times.

At the Gazette he was a Tera super-user and helped to introduce the new system into Northcliffe’s south east titles.

In
his youth Keith was an accomplished sportsman: he represented England
as a boxer and was London swimming and diving champion. In his days at
the Echo he also had a challenging fitness regime.

While other
journalists trained on a liquid lunch, Keith would spend his breaks
running up and down Southend seafront with a heavy rucksack on his back.

Last
year he helped commemorate the 60th anniversary of the relief of Arnhem
by parachuting into the Dutch town from a wartime Dakota and raising
money for charity Keith leaves a widow, Gill, who at the funeral paid
eloquent tribute to him as a husband and father, and four sons.

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