Great at bring­ing char­ac­ters to life

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION - ALAN HAYES former news editor, Uxbridge Gazette

I WOULD like to add my mem­o­ries of Jo Fran­cis (Tributes to a much loved vil­lage voice, Gazette, Oc­to­ber 28).

When I joined the Gazette in 1999 as a sub-editor, Jo’s Vil­lage Voice col­umn was a high­light of the pro­duc­tion week and a real plea­sure to read.

You could ‘lose your­self ’ in Jo’s mas­ter­ful sto­ry­telling with­out ever get­ting lost – she had a knack of ty­ing up all the threads at the end.

Later, when I oc­cu­pied the desk next to hers, she would re­gale me with tales of grow­ing up in Corn­wall, and of Uxbridge ‘back in the day’.

I re­call plenty of laugh­ter: Jo was ca­pa­ble of red-faced apoplexy for min­utes on end if some­thing re­ally tick­led her, al­though not my jokes – more likely one of the amaz­ing char­ac­ters she had just met on a foray from the of­fice and who would shortly ap­pear in ‘VV’ or a fea­ture she was writ­ing.

Such was the stock in trade of a good lo­cal jour­nal­ist, and Jo was good – great – at bring­ing those char­ac­ters to life in her sto­ries.

Af­ter she re­tired, I’d of­ten make the hike up the canal tow­path to Den­ham for din­ner with her and Nor­man, and it was they who first per­suaded me to ex­plore Corn­wall.

That first trip, in­clud­ing a visit to their home in Boscas­tle, kin­dled a love of the county in me that con­tin­ues to this day.

Jo was the con­sum­mate lo­cal news­pa­per reporter: ap­proach­able, scep­ti­cal, dili­gent and knowl­edge­able. Be­yond that, she was a mate. She will be much missed.

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