his teens as an inky-fingered linotype compositor, Roy Maddison had
always wanted to be a journalist. His eagerness to become a reporter
meant spending weekends on the windswept touchline at local football
matches submitting his own reports. After begging the Northern Daily
Mail’s editor for his first break, Roy recalled walking home through
the Hartlepool drizzle “floating above the puddles”, elated at his
acceptance to be a cub reporter.
Roy fulfilled his ambitions via
Newcastle, Manchester and Fleet Street before his final posting as
editor of The Whitehaven News in Cumbria, from where he retired in 1996.
his own headlines on the cover of his autobiography, Roy boasted the
following bullet points: “Lunch with Ingrid Bergman, Tommy Steele at
the Palladium”; “The man who knew the Yorkshire Ripper”; and “On the
road with Hartlepool United”.
Roy’s wife Jane recalled one of his
proudest years when he was chosen in 1993 as president of what was then
the Guild of Editors. “Newspapers were his life and this was an honour
that gave him a glow of pride,” she said.
With a ready wit, Roy
was not one to hold back from the culinary and social pleasures of the
top table. And the high-table talk was not without purpose since he was
adamant in making cabinet ministers aware of how retrograde a step it
would have been for them to impose VAT on newspapers.
News editor Colin Edgar said: “On the day Roy’s death was announced,
there was a sombre, subdued mood in the newsroom as people worked in
quiet contemplation. By the next day, however, you could hear laughter
getting louder and louder as people recalled affectionately some of the
outrageous things he had done or said. After all, not many editors
would have dared to print bills saying ‘Santa Claus is dead’ in
Roy was big-hearted and knew what people
expected from their newspaperâ€¦ an informer, a friend and an entertainer
on the doormat. He would probably like to be best remembered with the
dedication from his autobiography: “To GBH, the Great British Hacks.
May their battle to defeat those who wish to manipulate, spin and
manage the news never weaken. And long may they continue to truly tell
it the way it is. Their part in this country’s democracy can never be
David Siddall, news editor, The Whitehaven News