Glory days of the Herald
Former Surrey Herald editor Richard Parsons recalls his enduring relationship with the newspaper
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.