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Tributes to much-loved former editor Barry Hartley continue

PUBLISHED: 18:28 29 July 2011 | UPDATED: 18:31 29 July 2011

Barry Hartley with the 2008 Air Festival programme

Barry Hartley with the 2008 Air Festival programme

Archant

A true gentleman and a great asset to Lowestoft.

Those were among the many warm tributes paid this week to former Journal editor Barry Hartley.

Barry, who edited The Journal for 17 years - the fourth longest stint of all editors in the The Journal’s 138-year history - between 1985 and 2002, died at the weekend, aged 74.

Having continued to play an active role in the town following his retirement, he had finished editing this year’s official programme for the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival only days before his death.

During his time at The Journal, Barry was a passionate supporter of many community groups and charitable projects. Under his leadership The Journal won numerous awards - and fittingly, just five months before his retirement in 2002, The Journal was named the best paid-for regional weekly Newspaper of the Year by the Newspaper Society.

In a journalistic career which spanned 49 years, one of Mr Hartley’s greatest achievements was being the driving force behind the paper’s successful campaign in the 1980s which raised £450,000 in just 27 months to help purchase the town’s new lifeboat – the Spirit of Lowestoft – with the generous support of readers.

He was also heavily involved in the local community with several organisations, as founder-member of the Lowestoft East Point Rotary Club, president of the Lowestoft Players and director of East Coast Radio (The Beach) Ltd for the past eight years.

As well as being a member of the Lowestoft Lifeboat Station committee and a founder-member and former joint chairman of Caring for Education, Barry joined the Lowestoft Air Festival Project Group ten years ago.

Soon, in partnership with managing director Paul Bayfield and fellow director Brian Hunter as a team ofthree voluntury directors of the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival, Barry was using his journalistic skills to help publicise the event and to write and produce the official programme, which has been sold over the years to hundreds of thousands of people at the two-day show.

He had completed this year’s edition only last week - and the trio have given up many hours of their own time to Keep Lowestoft Flying, and make the popular air show a reality.

And when the tragic news of Barry’s death filtered through to the air show committee early on Monday morning, there was just enough time before the official programme was printed that very morning to “dedicate” this year’s souvenir programme to his memory.

Leading the tributes, the airshow’s managing director Paul Bayfield said yesterday: “Barry was the consummate professional. He was professional in everything he did and I actually learnt so many things from him through his professionalism. “He was very, very public minded and public orientated and we are still trying to come to terms with it.”

Every year the Emergency Planning group, which involves all the local and regional emergency services together with representatives of the Air Festival company, holds a meeting before and after the Air Festival and an all-day table top exercise just before the event. This was held yesterday (Thursday) and Barry would’ve been a key part of this meeting.

Mr Bayfield added: “I got up before the meeting to explain to everyone just how we are still getting to grips with things. The air show programme was signed off at last Friday’s air show meeting, and when I sent a group e-mail round to the committee on Monday morning with the terrible news, Red Hot Media informed me I had about an hour before it was due to be printed to add in a piece about Barry and dedicate the programme to him.”

Typifying a man who was renowned for being at the cornerstone of the community, many poignant words were expressed this week.

Mike Chapman, chairman of the local lifeboat management group, said: “I am very shocked and deeply saddened by Barry’s death and everyone’s thoughts at the lifeboat station are with his family. Barry was a much-valued supporter of the RNLI charity and a member of our local branch management committee for many years. His biggest achievement was as editor of the Lowestoft Journal, running the new lifeboat appeal in the mid 1980s - it raised most of the £500,000 cost of our present offshore lifeboat ‘the Spirit of Lowestoft’.”

At the full Waveney District Council meeting on Wednesday night, a moment’s silence was observed for Barry, in recognition of his passing and his outstanding contribution to Lowestoft and Waveney life.

Cllr Colin Law, leader of Waveney District Council said: “Although I didn’t know Barry personally, I am fully aware of the debt that Lowestoft and Waveney owes him and the tireless hard work he put in to a number of causes for the people of this town and beyond. As a Director and active press officer for the Lowestoft Seafront Airshow, he worked closely with officers and members of the council for many years and I know that he was a very kind and generous man and extremely well liked.

“On behalf of this council, I would like to offer my deepest sympathies to his family and our sincere gratitude for the legacies he has left behind.”

Lowestoft mayor Tod Sullivan said: “I was very sad to hear about the passing of Barry. I worked with him at Archant but knew him better from his work with Help an East Coast Child when I was at The Beach (radio station) where he was also a director, he was a true gentleman and a great asset to Lowestoft. “His contribution through The Journal, The Beach and The Airshow sit alongside his support of The Marina Theatre and many other local resources.”

Echoing these sentiments, Martin Halliday, manager of the Marina Theatre, said: “It is of great sadness to hear of the passing of Barry Hartley. Under his leadership of the Lowestoft Journal he set the benchmark for quality local journalism and his work within the local community will leave a lasting legacy. “Barry was a valued supporter of both the Marina Theatre and the performing arts and we will miss him greatly. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time,” he added.

Former Journal editor Russell Cook also paid tribute to Mr Hartley saying how much he was a “tower of strength” during the hand over of the editorship of the paper in 2002.

“Barry was such a guiding light and pointed me in the right direction towards taking charge of The Journal during my eight year’s tenure,” Mr Cook said.

“It helped to establish much of the early groundwork for running the operation, getting to know the readers, the town and the many important contacts in the area.

“He was a tower of strength during those early months and was always on the end of the telephone to offer advice if I needed it. More recently his work as PR and publicity chief with the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival has helped to put the event very much in the public eye not just in Lowestoft, but Suffolk, East Anglia and further afield. “I know Barry will be sadly missed,” Mr Cook, who is now West Suffolk Editor at the East Anglian Daily Times, added.

Current Journal editor Max Bennett said: “Barry was a huge help to me in my career. He was editor when I first worked in Lowestoft as chief reporter in the early 90s and was always ready to offer his support and advice, and when I got the job at the Journal in 2009 he was one of the first people on the phone to welcome me back. As well as being a loyal servant to the town and the community, he was a true gentleman.”

Equally “shocked and saddened,” former Journal chief reporter Terry Reeve said: “I was shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of Barry Hartley at the weekend. I worked with him when he was chief sub-editor and then editor of the Norwich Mercury Series and later at Lowestoft when he was Journal editor and I became chief reporter on the Journal.

“He was a kind and compassionate editor who led by example, and I never remember him getting angry – very little fazed him, though he had firm ideas on what he wanted the paper to achieve, and worked diligently to achieve them. He instigated a number of campaigns, notably the one which raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the Lowestoft lifeboat Spirit of Lowestoft, competitions and news features, but he never overlooked the importance to the paper of the items submitted from local organisations and villages.

“He cared for his staff and readers alike and led the Lowestoft Journal through one of its most successful periods – and he also involved himself in the community, though the Lowestoft Air Festival committee, Rotary and the chamber of trade and commerce.

“He had a good sense of humour, and as a keen Norwich City supporter, and I an Ipswich town fan, we had some great light-hearted banter over the years.

“It was a privilege to be part of his team, and my thoughts are with his wife, Jackie, and their daughter Cheryl and family as they grieve their loss,2 Mr Reeve added. “He was held in great respect throughout the area by all those with whom he came into contact.”

Mike Souter, travel writer and broadcaster, added: “I was shocked and much saddened to hear of Barry Hartley’s sudden death. “I knew him well from my time with Radio Norfolk in the 1980s, my involvement with the Norwich Theatre Royal and, more recently, through the Lowestoft Air Show.

“Barry was of the old school of newspapermen, knew his patch inside out and was always extremely generous with his time and knowledge. My thoughts are with Jackie and the family at this sad time.”

• Barry’s funeral is on Monday, August 8, at 11.30am at St Margaret’s Church, Lowestoft. Family flowers only but donations in aid of Lowestoft lifeboat can be made to Anglia Co-operative Funeral Service, Police Station Road, Lowestoft NR32 1NY.

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