Dave Routhorn: Kentish man of newspapers

Dave Routhorn: ex- Daily Sketch

Dave Routhorn, who worked on the Daily Sketch and TV Times before becoming one of the best-loved characters in Kent journalism after moving to the county, has died aged 72.

Routhorn joined the Northampton Chronicle and Echo as a sports reporter when he left school at 16.

He stayed there for two years before being called up by the RAF for National Service, where he was posted to Borneo and Singapore.

Returning to the Chronicle and Echo, he switched to news, and later joined the Hull Daily Mail, where he made a name for himself as a reporter who could make a lead story out of almost anything.

At Hull he started freelancing for the nationals, and was eventually taken on by the Daily Sketch . He later moved to the TV Times as a writer specialising in celebrity interviews.

In the late 1960s Dave moved to Kent, and spent eight years on the Folkestone Herald, where he held a variety of titles, including features editor and news editor, and wrote a very popular column called Topics.

He later moved to the Ashford based Kentish Express, owned by the Kent Messenger Group, as chief reporter.

In the early 1980s he was made launch editor of KMG’s Thanet Extra , one of the group’s first stand-alone free newspapers.

After this Dave freelanced for the nationals, and during the 1980s covered most of Kent’s major stories, including the Zeebrugge ferry disaster and the Cathy Humphrey stabbing, both in 1987, and the IRA’s bombing of Deal’s Royal Marines’ barracks in 1989.

Dave finished his career as news editor of the Adscene series of free newspapers before being made redundant following reorganisation in 1996.

Dave leaves a partner, Sarah, and five sons from his previous two marriages.

Graham Smith, now editor of the East Kent Mercury, who had three spells working with Dave, said: “As a reporter I worked under Dave at the Folkestone Herald and Kentish Express, and I was his editor at Adscene.

“He was a lovely guy, the best reporter I have ever worked with and an inspirational news editor. His unique sense of humour and his enthusiasm could make the newsdesk come alive.

“He had a great way of bringing on raw juniors, many of whom went on to work for the nationals. There were so many times Dave produced lead stories when the rest of us were scratching our heads trying to think of one.

“And he had a wonderfully friendly interview technique.

“He had been a champion junior boxer in his teens and he used to say that getting information from people who were being difficult was like boxing: you had to break down their guard to get to them.”

An evening to celebrate Dave’s career will be held at the King’s Head pub in Wincheap, Canterbury, on Friday 26 November from 7.30. Anyone who remembers Dave will be welcome. Telephone Graham Smith on 01304 365526 for more details


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