Former journalist of the year recognised for coverage of Brighton bomb and Ethiopia dies aged 81

Former journalist of the year and president of the Guild of Editors David Williams has died aged 81.

Williams began his career as a trainee reporter at the Bury Free Press in Suffolk in 1949. He joined the Daily Mirror in 1955 before gaining his first editorship in 1965 at the South East London Mercury.

He was the founding editor of the Southend Evening Echo in 1969 before joining the Brighton Evening Argus.

As editor there he was named 1984 journalist of the year at the British Press Awards for his reports on the famine in Ethiopia and his paper's coverage of the IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel at the Conservative Party conference.

He returned to Fleet Street as deputy editor of the People and The European before returning to his hometown to edit the Bury Free Press in 1989. He was president of the Guild of Editors in 1992-93 and helped guide the change to the Society of Editors in 1999 when he retired after a 48-year career. He was honoured with an MBE for services to journalism.

He went on to write a book, Poison Farm, in which he solved a 1938 murder that had baffled detectives who later held top jobs at Scotland Yard. He was still working on a second book when he died.

He had lived with Parkinson's disease since 2007 and he was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the end of August this year.

He is survived by his second wife, Elizabeth, his first wife, four children and six grandchildren.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: "David was a quietly spoken but tough editor. Driven by powerful principles concerning the freedom of the press and practical common sense, he led the Guild of Editors with style, good humour and under-stated strength of purpose and character.

“Those qualities were valuable in the transformation of the Guild into the Society of Editors working for all sectors of the media. He never gave up being a journalist."

The funeral will take place at 11.15am on 30 September at West Suffolk Crematorium in Bury St Edmunds.

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