The long-serving, former editor of the Northumberland Gazette Bob Bingham has died at the age of 72.
Bob, from Alnwick, passed away at Alnwick Infirmary yesterday after a battle with cancer.
He edited the Gazette for 16 years, from 1987 until he retired at the end of 2003 and during his reign, the paper won Weekly Newspaper of the Year in the BT North East of England Press and Broadcast Awards in 1998.
Bob spent almost half-a-century in journalism and was highly regarded in both the community of north Northumberland and the newspaper industry as a whole.
He started his career as a 15-year-old at the Dave Smith News Agency in his home town of Berwick, where he filed copy to national and regional newspapers, television and radio.
But it could have been a different story – Bob’s first career choice was in the merchant navy but he failed a medical because he was colour blind.
He joined the Gazette as a reporter in 1973 and became deputy editor in 1983.
At the time of his retirement, he was one of the longest-serving editors in the north.
As group editor during the 1990s, Bob also edited the Berwick Gazette, the Borders Gazette, the Hawick News and the Selkirk Saturday Advertiser for Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers.
During his time as editor, he oversaw tremendous technological changes in the industry.
When he retired, he said: “The biggest change has been the introduction of modern technology. Computers have made a tremendous difference to all newspapers and put journalists back in charge of newspapers when in the old days it had been print unions.”
Of Alnwick, he said: “In recent times, Alnwick has changed from being a town where nothing seemed to happen to, in the last decade, one where everything seems to happen. Tourism has made a major change and local people have got up and organised themselves and made a major difference to life in the town.”
Bob was also heavily involved in the Alnwick community, being a member of the Shrovetide Football Committee and a past-president of Alnwick Rugby Club.
Current Gazette editor Paul Larkin said: “Bob was a fantastic, long-serving and hard-working editor of the Gazette and upheld strong journalistic values. He did an amazing amount for the community and was well-respected in north Northumberland. He was still writing stories and reporting on rugby matches until a few weeks before he died, despite his illness. He will be sorely missed by the huge number of people who knew him. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his widow Susan and the rest of his family. This is a very sad time for them and the town of Alnwick. Journalism has lost a fine servant.”
Bob’s former colleague on the Gazette and ex-Morpeth Herald editor Terry Hackett said: “Bob’s appointment as chief reporter at the Gazette in 1973 enlivened the newsroom.
“His inquisitive nature and excellent contacts were matched only by his enthusiasm for ferreting out the facts and hammering them into the finished article at a relentless pace.
“That same fantastic work ethic served him well when he went on to become assistant editor and eventually editor. He set a great example for young journalists who began their careers at the Gazette and many will be grateful for the lessons they learned under his leadership.
“Having worked with him and for him for many years, it was with some trepidation that in 1988 I took on the editorship of what was then a rival newspaper down the road from Alnwick. As an opponent he gave no quarter, but we remained friends and he was always great company to be with. We shared a lot of laughs together over the years and that’s how I’ll remember him best.”