Former Bury Free Press editor dies

David Williams
David Williams
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David Williams, former editor of the Bury Free Press who had a long and distinguished career in journalism, has died aged 81.

Mr Williams, from Chedburgh, began his career on the paper as a trainee reporter in 1949 and joined the Daily Mirror in 1955. He worked on a number of Fleet Street titles before gaining his first editorship at the South East London Mercury in 1965. He was the founding editor of the Southend Evening Echo in 1969, before moving to the Brighton Evening Argus.

While at the Argus he was named Journalist of the Year in the 1984 British Press Awards for his reports on the famine in Ethiopia and his paper’s coverage of the IRA bombing in Brighton.

He returned to Fleet Street as deputy editor of the People and The European before going ‘home’ to edit the Bury Free Press in 1989.

He was president of the Guild of Editors in 1992-93 and helped guide its change to the Society of Editors. He received an MBE for services to journalism.

Mr Williams was a lifelong Ipswich Town supporter, a keen tennis player and jazz fan.

In retirement he wrote Poison Farm, based on a 1938 Risby murder that had baffled detectives and he was working on a second book when he died.

He had lived with Parkinson’s disease since 2007 and was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the end of August.

He is survived by his second wife, Elizabeth, his first wife, four children and six grand children.

Elizabeth said: “David was very much a family man and was a much-loved husband, father and grandfather whose interest in life, sense of humour and fun never failed even when ill and he will be greatly missed by us all.”

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: “David was a quietly spoken but tough editor. Driven by powerful principles concerning the freedom of the press and practical common sense, he led the Guild of Editors with style, good humour and under-stated strength of purpose and character.”

Richard Bryson, former deputy editor at the Bury Free Press, said: “For him the Bury Free Press was about maintaining standards, working hard but also having some fun and he seemed to love his time there.”

Editor Barry Peters said: “David was a newspaperman through and through and set a high standard for subsequent editors.”

The funeral is on September 30, at 11.15am, at West Suffolk Crematorium.