Journalists and editors nationwide will remember Marina Bird, who taught shorthand at Harlow College’s Journalism Centre from 1994-2004, and who sadly lost her battle against cancer in July, aged 72.
A figure of legendary status in both regional and national journalism, and former member of the NCTJ Shorthand Board, Marina was famed for her big personality and unstinting devotion to the success of her students.
Janice Bhend, a former magazine editor and lecturer in journalism at Harlow, said: ‘Her blazing blue eyes and black hair added to the impression she always gave of being an irresistible force never daunted by unmoveable objects.
‘Her students benefited from her common sense and wealth of experience as a teacher – she made the almost incomprehensible subject of T-line very nearly a joy – it could certainly never be boring with Marina threatening a ‘quick burst on the banjo’ and a tap dance when things got a little dull.”
Nigel Ive, a retired newspaper journalist, also a former colleague, added: ‘She became my mentor and close friend. I doubt if I would have survived as a teacher without her help and encouragement.”
As one of Marina’s former students, Paula Dady, now assistant faculty manager for journalism at Harlow, also paid tribute to the teacher who helped her achieve the seemingly impossible– 100wpm shorthand.
She said: ‘It was my good fortune to have Marina as my shorthand teacher. I was not the most able shorthand student, but she simply wouldn’t let me fail and it was with her strength and encouragement that I eventually passed the NCTJ exam.
‘Marina was the very essence of an excellent teacher and a role model I can only hope and strive to follow. Our heartfelt condolences go to Marina’s family.”