Ted Griffiths: 'A skilful reporter and astute editor'

The editor who oversaw the transformation of The Brecon & Radnor Express into a modern newspaper has died.

Ted Griffiths, who worked for the paper for more than 50 years -including his last 35 as editor – died in Shropshire last Tuesday evening (March 27) a month on from his 87th birthday.

Ted was the paper’s longest serving editor and in the final three years of his reign introduced two radical changes at the Brecon based title.

In October 1989, as the paper celebrated its centenary, the decision was taken to move traditional advertisements from the front page and to replace them with news stories.

It was a victory for Ted, a director of the paper since April that year, who had to convince his fellow directors and the advertising department of the merits of taking the radical step Then in August 1992 the last hot metal paper was printed and the Brecon & Radnor Express went into full production through computers using on-screen page make-up.

The paper closed its print works in Dan-y-Gaer Road, Brecon and shed more than half its staff.

Ted spent the next six months building on the successes the changes brought to the newspaper – circulation rose rapidly and the paper employed more journalists and advertising staff and opened new district offices in Brecon and Radnor.

In 1993, aged 68, he announced his retirement. Ted, who joined the paper as a 15-year-old cub reporter, told The Independent: “”When I joined in 1940 the content was not very different. We use purely local news, things that happen in the community. Dances, whist drives, weddings, funerals. People like to see their names and pictures in the paper.”

In 2002 Ted, who was born in the paper’s patch at Tregoyd near Talgarth, recalled his days on the paper for a countryside programme broadcast on HTV Wales.

‘Paper was the centre of the community’

Despite retirement Ted, who for many years lived in Llangammarch Wells before moving to Builth Wells, continued to supply community news from the district, filing his last regular column in 2004.

Ill health in recent years finally forced Ted and wife Evelyn to move to Newport, Shropshire, to be near their son, Philip.

The 56-year-old said: “We had to move him out of Brecon and Radnorshire but he loved the area he lived in and the people and tried to show that through the paper.

“One thing I remember which showed how important the paper was when he had to come back one night with a five or six bundles of the paper and get them to the newspaper shop in Llangammarch and there was about six or seven Landrovers outside, all farmers and their wives waiting for the newspaper.”

Philip added: “The paper was the centre of the community and he was as well because he represented the paper.

“He loved his job I remember the sort of things he got involved in such as when I was a little boy and he had to interview a wrestler, who didn’t like the report, and then offered to fight him in a wrestling ring.”

Former Brecon & Radnor Express reporter Arwyn Evans, of Penorth, near Brecon, paid tribute to his former boss: “I had the privilege of working with him for 29 wonderfully happy years when he directed the paper with a quiet calm and good humour. He was a skilful reporter and astute editor. The news room was never happier than when he was around.”

Malcolm Morris, joint general manager of The Brecon & Radnor Express, who has worked at the paper for 48 years, said: “I spent 29 years in the production department of the paper during Ted’s time as editor, no story was too small as Ted knew that the more names and faces in the paper the more people would want to read it, and that is still the case today.”

Ted’s funeral will be held at St Cadmarch’s Church, Llangammarch Wells on Tuesday 10 April 10 at 2pm.

Ted had been a warden at the church for 30 years and had also served as secretary of the Llangammarch and District Sports and Horse Racing Society and was a member of the Builth Wells Royal British Legion and Builth Probus Club.

During Ted Griffiths’ employment The Brecon & Radnor Express was owned by the Sayce family other than for a brief period from July 1992 when it was 50 per cent owned by the Aberystwyth based Cambrian News. Today both papers are owned by Sir Ray Tindle’s Tindle Newspapers.

A broadsheet, The Brecon & Radnor Express serves south and mid Powys including the main towns of Brecon, Builth Wells, Llandrindod Wells, Rhayader, Presteigne, Knighton, Hay-on-Wye, Crickhowell and Ystradgynlais.

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