Eric Burt

"Let Eric fix it!" That often was the lifetime cry around Eric Burt who died, aged 76, last month, after a heart attack at his Surrey home.

Mr Fixit, in the best sense of the title, was admirably suited to Eric, who toiled in the backroom of newspapers as a sports sub-editor supreme.

What’s more, if you needed a concert ticket, a wine bargain, the best steak in town and an after-hours drink in Peckham when pubs closed at 11pm, Eric was your man.

Perhaps, however, his finest act was to arrange part-time shifts on magazines and newspapers for fellow staff subs.

How the extra earnings helped to pay for London-area mortgages!

These examples illustrated the help he gave and in all aspects of his life — personal and professional.

He was a kind and generous man, spreading happiness and uplifting the spirits of his workmates.

His professionalism, from the hot metal of Fleet Street to the cold computers of Wapping, inspired the other sub-editors.

He always had a nose for a good story and a headline, and he could craft rambling reports into perfect prose with his high speed and accuracy. There were no split infinitives and no incorrect apostrophes.

He began on the Evening Gazette in his home town Middlesbrough and stayed friends with Tees football legends George Hardwick, Bob Dennison, and Bobby Baxter.

He then moved to the Daily Herald in Manchester, and then went to Fleet Street, where he worked on the Daily Sketch, the Daily Mail, the Sporting Life, the London Daily News and the News of the World, where he did many shifts.

The Sporting Life spell was the love of his life — after his charming wife Britta.

He loved his horse racing and his most memorable turf experience was Lester Piggott winning the 1973 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe, the Blue Riband of European racing, on Rheingold. The horse was owned by Eric’s friend Henry Zeisel and was named after his Mayfair club, another of Eric’s beloved venues.

Another racing contact was Mayfair hairdresser Raymond, who, because of TV projection, became known as Teazy Weazy. To Eric’s delight Raymond was a winner with Rag Trade in the 1976 Grand National. A horse called Red Rum was second.

How Eric must have celebrated with Raymond and his wife, the actress Rosalie Ashley. Rosalie and Henry Zeisel’s partner Daphne remained lifelong friends of Eric and Britta.

Once met, Eric was a lifelong friend to many. He was not someone who told people "do it yourself" when they were in need of help.

He was a man who did what he could for others.

Eric is survived by his wife Britta, his daughters Ita and Cara, his son Ian, and grandchildren Oscar, Felix, Jemimah, and Roan.

Iain Thomas

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