Glory days of the Her­ald

For­mer Sur­rey Her­ald ed­i­tor Richard Par­sons re­calls his en­dur­ing re­la­tion­ship with the news­pa­per

Surrey Herald/News - - NEWS -

THE day I heard of the Her­ald’s im­mi­nent clo­sure, I tweeted: “Sad news… ca­reer kept tak­ing me back there un­til our fi­nal part­ing in 2002.” As well as be­ing ev­i­dence I am cling­ing to the coat­tails of the dig­i­tal me­dia revo­lu­tion, it summed up a re­la­tion­ship that goes back nearly 50 years. I had two spells at the Her­ald in Chert­sey, lat­terly as ed­i­tor, from 1994 to 2002, but my first con­tact was dur­ing the ’60s – with the Staines & Egham News, its sis­ter ti­tle. I was very keen on a young lady re­porter who worked in the Staines of­fice after meet­ing her on a train­ing course. Even though I had a job in Southall, I re­mem­ber one week­end, when she was not well, I un­der­took her as­sign­ments for her. Such was young love! I re­mem­ber the prin­ci­pal job was cov­er­ing the Ash­ford Hos­pi­tal Dog Show and hav­ing to metic­u­lously record the re­sults, to keep her ed­i­tor, the late Jack Bosher, happy.

All th­ese years later, Judy is my wife and will be re­mem­bered by read­ers for her vil­lage col­umns about life in Sun­bury, Shep­per­ton, Lale­ham and beyond. She be­came news ed­i­tor for the edi­tions north of the Thames and shares with me the dev­as­tat­ing loss of the Her­ald. The news came as a shock. I ap­pre­ci­ate the trou­bles lo­cal news­pa­pers are hav­ing after the mi­gra­tion of ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enue to the in­ter­net but some­how I thought the Her­ald would ad­just. A talk I de­liv­ered on oc­ca­sion to com­mu­nity groups about life on the pa­per in­evitably con­tained a pot­ted his­tory of a pub­li­ca­tion that at one time sold 45,000 weekly copies. It peaked when Wok­ing FC won the FA Am­a­teur Cup at Wem­b­ley and not enough pa­pers could be printed to meet de­mand. My first spell on the pa­per was in the early 1980s, as a sub-ed­i­tor. The ed­i­tor was Peter Hurst and I had din­ner with him and sev­eral oth­ers from those days only last month. We raised a glass to the loss of an in­sti­tu­tion. Imag­ine the pride I felt when, in 1994, I was asked to move from edit­ing the Uxbridge Gazette se­ries to Chert­sey to run MY lo­cal pa­per, the one that served the area in which I lived. It was all-con­sum­ing. I brought the job home with me each evening and at week­ends. It caused me to let slip some close friend­ships I val­ued be­cause I sim­ply did not have the time. But it was all worth it. What a great thing to put on your life’s CV, to be on that roll of hon­our of the re­mark­ably few peo­ple who have taken the ed­i­tor’s chair.

I shall trea­sure this fi­nal copy of the pa­per.

Richard Par­sons.

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