Wow - a visitor from 1974!
I rarely get the chance to meet former students, so it was nice to welcome Jon Griffin to my home in July 2022 -- nearly 50 years after he left college. You can see him on the group photo below . . . second from left on the middle row. (He's got a lot of hair and a slightly worried expression!)
Visiting Derbyshire with friends for the weekend, he decided to call on me. A couple of weeks later he sent me an account of the visit. You can read it below the picture caption.
Here’s the 1974/5 group. Jon remembered the names of most of them, and I’ve managed to fill in the gaps with a bit of research in old documents and a little help from Nigel Pickover (at the end of the middle row . . . now retired editor-in-chief of Eastern Daily Press) and Colin Sykes (middle of the top row, now retired from BBC television news in Manchester).
TOP ROW: Bev Simmons, Kathy Leeds, Andy Chapman, Bill Riley, Colin Sykes, Pete Bailey,Jose Decker, Gary Moran, Hylda Taylor; MIDDLE ROW: Trevor Bevins, Jon Griffin, Richard Horsley, Dave Parnell, Nik Wood, Simon Mills, Paul Calverley, Ian Ross, Nigel Pickover; FRONT ROW: Judith Spivey, Anne-Marie Kinsey, Jo Cracknell, Laura Seale, Jayne Clucas, Maureen Barrett, Vicky Holmes. (There was a Liz Hardy too, but she must have been absent that day!)
Three of these old classmates -- Jon Griffin, Nigel Pickover and Colin Sykes - set
in motion a search
for others . . . and found a dozen of 'em! Scroll down to see their
Jon Griffin writes . . .
When our paths last crossed, I was just 19 and Gerry was 41. But the years melted away as the man who countless journalism students will remember from those far-off days in Sheffield opened the door of the charming home he shares with wife Una in the shadow of the Peak District's beautiful Heights of Abraham in Matlock Bath.
Gerry, full of life and memories, is now nearly 89. I am officially a state pensioner at the age of 66. The last time we were in contact as lecturer and student, Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, the Suez Canal had just re-opened, West Ham had won the FA Cup, the West Indies had won cricket's first World Cup and Windsor Davies and Don Estelle topped the charts with Whispering Grass.
How times change across nearly five decades. But a mutual love of journalism – which defined both our lives -- ensured that some things never change. For more than two hours we chatted merrily away, the memories flooding back to the college on the hill. And what memories we share.
Gerry - I don't recall anybody ever calling him Mr Kreibich - recalled his 18 years as journalism lecturer at Richmond, colleagues such as Ron Eyley, Lyn Cooke, that stickler for grammar Frank Littlewood, Richmond alumni such as Jeremy Clarkson, former East Anglian based editor Nigel Pickover, my old housemate Ian Ross, who made it to Fleet Street as a football writer, our very first bylines as contributors to Britain's smallest newspaper the Richmond Reporter, mutual journalistic friends such as the irrepressible Nick Hudson (who once recruited Gerry to help produce the Burton Trader), his days editing the Matlock Mercury and so much more.
There were smiles at the memory of the public administration lecturer Richard Totterdell, mercilessly teased by some of the more raucous elements of the college intake of 1974-75. Richard was once bemused to hear a disembodied voice shouting 'let me out' from a cupboard. Opening the doors to much hilarity he discovered a tape recording. It was Richmond's very own Watergate moment. During a trip to the Yorkshire Dales, Richard, driving the minibus, was persuaded to turn on the hazard warning lights on the dubious grounds that it would save petrol….glorious memories…
And of course there were the parties at Robinson Road close to Sheffield city centre and home to some of the students. Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, Wishbone Ash's Blowin' Free, Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird, Wings' Band on the Run blasting out of a 1970s turntable, Andy Chapman (later on Fleet Street) taking his clothes off, the stunned moment in November 1974 as the party stopped when we heard that bombers had struck in Birmingham.
ut the party didn't stop for very long back in 1974-75, notwithstanding that horrific night in the city which would eventually become my journalistic home.
When we weren't partying, we were working on our shorthand, learning the fundamentals of law and local government, getting hands-on experience as observers at Sheffield Crown Court and Derbyshire County Council, visiting the Eckington district office of the Sheffield Star and the Derbyshire Times at Chesterfield, all of us preparing for careers in the crazy, incomparable world of mid-1970s newspapers.
Personally, I have no doubt that Richmond College helped shape my entire life in what became my most formative year. Gerry agreed that I was 'one of the quieter ones' and my sheltered upbringing at home had left me unprepared for the culture shock that was the journalism class of 74-75 at Sheffield.
But I stuck it through a freezing winter in the lodgings of our dear old landlady Miss Morley (remember the breakfast fishcakes we secretly threw on her shed roof?), occasionally through gritted teeth, and Richmond gave me the passport to a quite wonderful, if also often maddening, lifetime in journalism. It even gave me a wife, but while that love affair didn't last, my lifelong love of journalism has never left me.
Journalism - and specifically the now endangered world of print - gave me a backstage pass to the party of a lifetime. The millions of memories and the sheer fun of it - not to mention the job satisfaction - has never really gone away. Once a hack, always a hack, I guess.
And I have Gerry and his colleagues -- from that distant Sheffield past of freezing winters and inedible fishcakes -- to thank for that.
Jon joined the Peterborough Evening Telegraph on leaving
college, and later worked on the Wolverhampton Express
and Star for 16 years. He then worked on the Birmingham
Post and Mail for 20 years, most of that time as business
editor. He is still a busy freelance writer on business
matters in the west midlands.
RIGHT: We enjoy a catch-up chat in the
garden. (That's me on the right!)
Nik pops in -- and finds that it's music night
"Sorry Nik, I'm out tomorrow night, I’m playing in the Garage Show at The Fishpond." “What’s that then?” “It’s in a pub in Matlock Bath where I live, on the second Thursday of the month.” “But Gerry, you’re getting on a bit.” “I know, but it’s better than sitting at home doing crosswords.” "OK , I’ll see you there.”
Such was the conversation with Gerry when I called him on my recent UK nostalgia road trip in my newly-restored motorhome. I had promised to call him if I was ever passing so, fresh (well hung over actually) from attending the 40th anniversary reunion of the original BBC Radio York team four days earlier and a catch-up with a couple of my old Doncaster Evening Post mates, it was a date I did not want to miss.
I was a poor cello player at school, although I did manage to make the West Yorkshire Youth Orchestra, and I remember when I saw Gerry jamming on the piano during one of our breaks at Richmond College with a fellow student (who was it?) on guitar, I wanted to join in. With a bit of
clever support from one of the tekkies at Richmond, we managed to mount a microphone pick-up to my cello and I used it as a double bass. We were hardly going to play at Ronnie Scott’s but it was great fun.
The Garage Show turned out to be a kind of open mike event and Gerry was clearly well known there. He was just as sharp as I remembered him at college and even sharper on the keyboard.
The gig was a great collection of old favourites, jazz rock and some fantastic turns from new young musicians. Gerry played solo to close the show, and that’s when I found out that he was weeks away from his 90th birthday, for which family and friends from far and near will be gathering in Matlock Bath.
Well Gerry, a big “Happy Birthday” from me, it was a top night and I only wish I still had my electric cello…I would have joined you on stage!
the Fishpond evening and has provided a link for anyone who
might fancy seeing it. Here it is: https://youtu.be/pW-3eg_cGKs (August 2023)
If the link doesn't work, put my name into a YouTube search and find 'Jammin' with Gerry'
Bridging the years -- 14
great catch-up letters
SPOT THE (TEENAGED) WRITERS ON THE GROUP PHOTO
* LAURA WRITES:
I have a far away look in my eyes on that college photo for I was rather the imposter on the course that year. It was my highly ambitious mother, who had to leave school at 13, who really wanted to be there. National newspaper writer Jean Rook was her inspiration and mum channelled all her own thwarted hopes and dreams into me. I was, disappointingly to her, only interested in falling in love - which I did quite magnificently at Richmond, with a red-headed rebel of a reporter on the block release course. I had always loved words though and came to discover huge satisfaction in the craft of shaping a news story, but I was still too unformed to know what I really wanted to do for a living. I imagined I’d soon be living in a red-bricked old lodge in Leicestershire with a stable of horses -- I could draw you the property now! But Mum was a force and had her plan. I did as I was bid.
Following Richmond, I joined The Stamford Mercury and later became a senior reporter on the Sheffield Morning Telegraph. Mike Corner facilitated my interview. He used to come into my dad’s shop in Sheffield sporting a dazzling, sharply-cut white suit. This seemed terribly glamorous to me. I didn’t feel at all well equipped as a hard news journalist at the Telegraph though - it was a very masculine environment then and I was scared of everyone, especially reporters on The Star who looked so tough across the newsroom. I got married as fast as possible, to an international press photographer and worked in Brussels for a news agency specialising in EU stories. I was still faking it at the Berlaymont press conferences in the capital and at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. We moved on to Zurich, back to Brussels and then to Bonn at the time when the Berlin wall came down. I was a ‘trailing spouse’ as they say in diplomatic circles and an at-home mum to two boys.
In between, on a short return to the UK, I re-learned my reporting skills at the Cambridge Evening News. My marriage failed. I worked for a PR firm in Newmarket. At 46 with the children then living their own lives, I secured the job I was probably made for, handling publicity for the independent family business Bettys and Taylors - the well-loved cafe tea rooms and home of Yorkshire Tea. It was hand on heart the best job in Yorkshire. I retired a few years back and have ‘come home’ again to the countryside around Chatsworth. My proudest achievement in a life of accidental journalism must be in producing my son James Crisp, Europe Editor at The Daily Telegraph and his brother Charlie, a business analyst at Lloyds Bank. I think even mum would be proud of me finally now.
* MARIE WRITES:
I left Richmond for the Peterborough Evening Telegraph, then four years later to the Sutton Coldfield News for a short time before joining BRMB Radio in Birmingham, reporting and reading news bulletins. After four years, an urge for a bit more education meant a move to London and studying for a degree in Philosophy and Economics at UCL, while freelancing at various broadcasters including LBC Radio, Independent Radio News and BBC Radio London. After uni I became Deputy City Editor at LBC/IRN, then joined Thames TV as co-presenter and reporter on The City Programme before being lured back to LBC to present a two hour business programme.
in 1992 I became one of the BBC's first batch of regional bi-media correspondents specialising in business and finance and covering London and the South East. In 1994 I tried my hand at teaching, launching a Postgraduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University - no, a return to Sheffield wasn't exactly planned. I ran that until 2001 before moving up the hill to the University of Sheffield and running their MA in Broadcast Journalism.
In 2014 I became joint Head of Department and a year later Professor of Journalism Education. I retired three years ago to spend more time with the husband, the cats and the garden, although I still sit on the department's Advisory Board.
* PETER WRITES:
1975-79 - Trainee reporter on the Skyrack Express in East Leeds, part of the Wakefield Express group. Without Skyrack editor Don Slack, who decided I was worth a punt, the subsequent 40-odd years might have been very different. I passed my indentures, became a senior reporter and decided - partly with Frank Littlewood in mind - that subbing would be the way forward for me.
1979-86 - Sub-editor on the Birmingham Evening Mail. First as a trainee news sub before moving to features within a couple of years. I became chief features sub around 1984, with responsibility for the Mail and Birmingham Post operations when the two papers merged. I also wrote gig reviews for the Mail for several years.
Just as I was getting itchy feet, a mate and former colleague informed me of a vacancy on a certain national and suggested I might like to contact the features editor. 1986-2011 - Features sub on the Daily Mail. From 1990-2010 I also did regular Saturday shifts on the Observer sports desk until I took voluntary redundancy. On the Mail, I eventually became associate chief features sub for several years before deciding in 2011 that I wanted to retire, a few months before my 56th birthday.
Do I regret packing in so early? Not for one second. My partner Kath and I - we've been together 41 years - spend more time together and with walking, football, gigs, theatre, galleries and trips , I find plenty to keep me occupied.
* JO WRITES:
I’m not sure where all those years have gone! After Richmond I worked for a news agency on Merseyside, then as a reporter on the Durham Advertiser series. I was deputy editor of a free paper in Sunderland (it was a small setup!). I did bits of freelance work but changed direction in my thirties and became a counsellor. I still got to ‘interview’ people but unlike journalism, my job was to NOT tell anyone else the story.
I stayed in touch with journalism though as I married Roy Saatchi who was at Radio City in Liverpool and then the BBC. We’ll have been married 45 years in June and various family members are also involved in the media, so perhaps it’s in the genes.
* SIMON WRITES:
Post-Richmond I trained at the Melton (Mowbray) Times - cue a headline for a feature on the local delicacy . . . Simple Simon Meets A Melton Pieman. I moved to the Doncaster Evening Post in 1978 as a newly-minted Proficiency Certificate holder, midway through the NUJ strike. When the South Yorkshire title closed in 1981 I landed a job on the Evening Chronicle at Newcastle upon Tyne as a general news reporter, later adding a weekly music page to my duties.
My career went international in 1986 by fooling the folk at the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong that I was worthy of a go, the highlight of my stint being a front page story about the Governor’s missing cat.
Returning to the UK later that year I worked as chief reporter on the Gateshead Post before crossing the great divide to take up a job in the press office of South Tyneside Council. For the remainder of my career until retirement in 2015 I worked for the health service in the North East, my last job being communications manager for the now defunct Public Health England.
* IAN WRITES:
After leaving Richmond I headed for the Southport Visiter - at the time Britain’s only tri-weekly publication….. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Three years on, in 1978, the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo came calling so I moved 12 miles down the coast to a city I immediately fell in love with and one which has now been my home for 44 years.
I spent eight wonderful years on the DP&E before joining The Times as Northern Football Correspondent. I then had a spell with the Daily Telegraph before securing what I confess was my dream job on The Guardian.
I was perfectly happy on the “ writers’ paper “ but was lured away in 2001 by the chance to become Everton FC’s Director of Communications. I spent an interesting decade at Goodison Park, teaching a young Wayne Rooney how to speak in public and dealing with the over-inflated egos of over-paid footballers.
I have had four books published - the last a fantasy/ time-travel novel featuring two of my great heroes, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.
* NIK WRITES:
When I left Richmond it was for a ‘cub’ reporter role on the now defunct Doncaster Evening Post. It was an amazing start in journalism with some fantastic characters (and some not so fantastic) but I made friends who are still close mates today.
From there I took the Thomson Newspapers route to Newcastle-on-Tyne and had some great years on Tyneside before joining the team appointed to launch the new BBC Radio York station. I was their ‘man in Scarborough’ complete with branded radio car and had a rare old time tearing round North Yorkshire. Thanks to a bit of an exclusive with the world’s first test tube triplets, born to a farmer and his wife on the North York Moors, I was asked to join the BBC’s Look North regional television operation in Leeds. A few years later I was appointed as the Beeb’s first bi-media business correspondent in the region and joined network BBC in the business unit covering the Today programme, Wake Up to Money and others before joining the team of BBC 2’s Working Lunch anchored by a certain Adrian Chiles
I loved my time there but I eventually left to earn some proper money to educate three expensive teenagers and then formed my own operation which is now Good Call Media. It takes me all around the world so thanks Gerry and the team at Richmond, I was never the perfect student and The Magnificent Seven must have been a royal pain in the proverbial a*se but I am eternally grateful for the great opportunity it gave me in life – reunion anyone?
* TREVOR WRITES:
Lovely to see that old photo and enjoy the memories it evokes. I enjoyed my time at Sheffield, my first venture ‘up north’, and was enthused enough by you and your colleagues to stick with it…so much so that, now aged 66, I’m still working full time and have no immediate plans to give up!
After Richmond I went back home to Salisbury, Wiltshire where I worked for the Times & Journal papers for a few years before moving on to Dorset with the weekly Western Gazette, mainly because they offered a new car and were, at the time, one of the biggest selling weeklies in the country.
From there I joined the BBC, initially in Southampton at the combined TV and Radio newsroom, eventually moving to Dorset to take on the management of BBC Dorset where I was also the breakfast presenter. After getting rather fed up of 4.30am starts and never seeming to be able to get out of the office until at least 12 hours later I took an early retirement package at 50, returning to newspapers and also running a news agency for a while with a colleague covering both Dorset and Devon with a number of national stories and pictures to our credit.
I’ve stayed in Dorset and for the last 5 years have been the Local Democracy Reporter with the BBC-funded scheme, covering initially just Dorset County Council but, more recently, both Dorset and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole…basically the whole of Dorset.
I'm grateful for all the college did for me. . I only remember the fun bits, but that’s the way it should be! (Never really did get the hang of shorthand, but I can write and type very quickly!!!)
* NIGEL WRITES:
When I think of my journey after those wonderful Richmond days I see a set of stepping stones -- appropriate in that our group had all bounded across the River Wharfe on some large granite blocks on one of Richmond Journalism’s much-loved field trips to the Yorkshire Dales.
My professional stepping stones took me from Sheffield, to Manchester, to York, on to Ipswich and finally to Norwich. In Sheffield I rose from cub reporter, to senior, to calls reporter and then on to the crime beat. I loved both paper and city and reported on major stories and tragedies. Later, I learned the craft of subbing with some of the industry’s best. I still rate Sheffield as my favourite city.
Next I followed many ex-Star production staffers “over the hill” (Pennines) to Manchester and enjoyed five years there - rising to Deputy Chief Sub on the Daily Express before the northern operation was closed.
I enjoyed five years in York on The Yorkshire Evening Press as Assistant Editor, switching to Ipswich in Suffolk as Deputy Editor of The Star, then to the Editor’s Chair, helping to transform the title to a campaigning, multi award-winning one. We won many fights for readers and raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for worthy causes. After more than a decade in Suffolk, Norfolk came calling and as Editor-in-Chief I ran The Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News as an electrifying, fulfilling, five-year culmination to my career.
I’ve been retired for seven years now but there’s been no time for full relaxation, especially with our four children and six grandchildren often popping in to see us. Long may the busy times continue! Apart from extensive travelling and some writing, one day Ruth and I decided on another adventure. We took down our 17th century tithe barn, saved ancient bricks and oak timbers and used them as the skeleton of our new home nearby. A four-year planning, logistics, financial and construction whirlwind from which we have just emerged!
* COLIN WRITES:
After I left Richmond I was lucky to walk into a staff job at the Stockport Express as a junior reporter. It took me a while to build up the confidence needed to cold call people and I wondered if I’d chosen the right career. But I soon got over the early wobbles and realised this was a job I was suited to after all. I met my wife Janette at Sheffield – she was on the Richmond course the year after me – and we’ve been together now for more than 40 years.
I left Stockport in 1979 to join the Oldham Evening Chronicle and a couple of years in I started doing evening and weekend shifts at Piccadilly Radio in addition to my day job. The things you can do when you’re young!
After 18 months of radio moonlighting I got a staff reporter job at BBC Radio Manchester and stayed with the BBC for the next thirty years. In that time I produced the breakfast shows at Radio Manchester and Radio Sheffield, did 12 months at Westminster, became News Editor and Deputy Manager at Radio Manchester, a producer on BBC North West Tonight and then 15 years on screen as Environment and Transport Correspondent. At the age of 57 I was tempted by an offer of early retirement that was too good to refuse.
But I wasn’t quite ready to stop work. At the same time this was happening I bumped into fellow course member Marie Kinsey who was running the MA Broadcast Course at the University of Sheffield and was on a tour of Media City in Salford. I said I was thinking of doing some freelance journalism teaching and she said ‘give me a call’. Ten years on I’m on the staff (part-time) at Sheffield, teaching TV. Janette and I have been lucky to have Gerry play piano for us at Janette’s last big birthday bash in Buxton. We both learned an awful lot from him and our other great Richmond mentors. I still tell the story of Ron sending us out to Eckington with the newsgathering rallying call . . . ’I want you to take this town apart’!
* JOSE WRITES:
“Although it was only a year’s course, my time at Sheffield had a defining effect on my life, both on a personal and career level. What a time we had and how lucky we were!
After leaving Richmond, I worked for five years on the Nottingham Evening Post with two other members of our intake - Richard Horsley and Gary Moran (who is now sadly no longer with us). This came to an abrupt end in the Winter of Discontent when - along with 27 other journalists and subs - I was sacked for joining the national journalists strike. I became an unlikely poster girl though - leading the picket line whilst heavily pregnant!!
I then worked as a freelance for a number of years, covering the East Midlands, before moving into local government PR, including six years at Derbyshire County Council. East Midlands Airport then beckoned - I became Head of Comms there for four years before I realised a dream of moving to Cornwall where I’ve lived for the past 20 years.
I was lucky enough to spend 10 years working as a press officer for Devon and Cornwall Police before retiring in 2015.
I’m now enjoying life in sunny St Ives but often think of my time at Richmond with great affection.
It’s been fantastic to read what everyone’s been up to - we didn’t do too badly did we for such a motley crew??!! A big shout out for Gerry bringing this all together - investigative journalism at its best!
It’s 50 years next year - wouldn’t it be amazing if we could sort a reunion? We could recreate all of those debauched parties in that horrible City Road house and play all of those Supertramp and Alex Harvey tracks we remember so well!!”
* PAUL WRITES:
Fifty years! Who’d have thought that just one year could have such an impact on so many lives? Reading these pieces really brought home just what a seminal time it was. It was a year that confirmed for me I’d found the perfect job. It produced so many happy memories – not least the Magnificent Seven and the great nights at Robinson Road. In fact, I went for my interview to the Wakefield Express with a roaring hangover, thanks to a Robinson Road party. I’m convinced it was the Richmond reference rather than my interview performance that got me the job.
After indentures there, I went to the Yorkshire Post and was lucky enough to work on the Ripper background investigations and win a British Press Award for an investigation into the drugs trade in Yorkshire. From Yorkshire it was off to London to work on Radio 4’s Checkpoint – which then morphed into the Cook Report on ITV.
ITV gave me the opportunity to learn more about the technical side of TV. As well as producing programmes, I trained as a live multi-camera director – work I continued to do after leaving ITV as head of network development in Wales. I retired in 2019, but still work on directing live cultural, sporting events and concerts during the summer to keep my hand in.
We’ve lived in transformative times for our trade. Digital technology revolutionised the newspaper industry and is doing the same now to conventional broadcast TV. I’m not sure the public is better served by these changes and I’m certain the business isn’t as much fun as it was.
Richmond gave me so much and I will always be grateful to Gerry, Ron, Lyn and Frank and the other lecturers who put up with so much (at least from our group) and gave us all such a great foundation on which to build our careers.
When I left college I didn't feel ready to join the big bad world of 'gainful employment', so I did a degree in English Literature at Sheffield University. By May 1976, I had given birth to my twins ; a girl called Donna & a boy called Elliott. I did graduate from Uni in 1979 -- I had to repeat the year I'd lost by having the twins. I then figured out that journalism wasn't the career for a young, black, unmarried mother of two children.
I still lived in Nottingham, where I trained to be Careers Officer (there's an old saying in careers officers’ circles that people who train to become careers officers don't know what they want to be when they grow up). I did work as a Careers Officer for around three years in Nottingham.
I then saw a job advertised for the new Race Equality Unit that Sheffield City Council was setting up; I got it, and did it for around three years.
I've always enjoyed work that involves young people, so -- ever restless -- I applied for a post to be a Co-ordinator of a Young People's Information & Counselling Centre. I got the job, but the problem was there weren't any trained & qualified counsellors among the staff team that I inherited, so I volunteered to train to become a counsellor. I qualified in 1998 and went to work for Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council for three years. In the meantime I got married in Jamaica. Before then I had another child; she was born in 1995.
I also worked as a staff and student counsellor for Sheffield Hallam University, and as a staff counsellor for the South Yorks Teaching Hospital Trust. I retired from the NHS job in 2011 and the Sheffield Hallam job in June 2018, so I'm fully retired these days.
I honestly can’t believe it’s 50 years since Richmond – until I look in the mirror! College was such an eye-opener. I’d just turned 18 a few days before the course began and had led a pretty sheltered life of girls’ school, Guides, piano and church. This was all turned upside down with the legendary Robinson Road parties. Yes, I grew up!
After Richmond I worked with Jon and Marie at the Peterborough Evening Telegraph, where one of the highlights was rearranging a concert for the little-known ‘Stranglers’ who’d been banned from playing at the local college.
I got itchy feet and spent a decade travelling the world. Adventures included a trip on the 1970s 'Magic Bus' from Athens to India – through Iran as the Shah was being toppled and Afghanistan as the Russians were arriving - and overlanding in a Land Rover across the Sahara and up to the Arctic Circle. Journalism jobs included freelancing on Anglo-American Spotlight in Munich and then, back home, on the Holme Valley Express, Wakefield Express and the Huddersfield Examiner as women’s page editor. In the 1990s I was an assistant business TV editor at Halifax plc (the company's internal communications department had its own TV station aired to all staff).
I did a humanities degree (2.1) at Huddersfield University, graduating in my 50th year (2006), and then changed direction to run a company, with my husband, making bespoke brass and cast iron shop fittings, antique style.
Not for us a cruise on our silver wedding anniversary, but backpacking round Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. We have a tandem and have cycled to Munich and back and to Edinburgh and back.
Richmond might have been only a year’s course but so much of what I learnt is still there. Thanks, Gerry, for getting in touch.
This year’s Grand National came and went without me placing a bet or watching the race on TV. But it set my mind wandering . . . The last time I covered the races was in my final year at The Mail on Sunday before taking redundancy. And on that day I met Colin Sykes, my old mate from Manchester when we were at Richmond - and his lovely wife Janette, also an ex-student on the journalism course.
As more memories flooded back I googled the immortal name Gerry Kreibich. I even worried as I tapped in his name that I would, sadly, find an obit. But no! He is alive and kicking! And still searching for news of surviving Richmond alumni. Then I found this website, and I’ve loved reading the potted histories of my fellow 1974 students. I can see Jose Decker leading a picket line while heavily pregnant, waving her banner Boadicea style . . . Paul Calverley, a fellow Mancunian, a big hitter on the Cooke Report . . . and all the other names and faces I hadn’t seen in 50 years.
What happened to me? I hate the word ‘journey’, it sounds like psychobabble. But here, in brief, is what I became. First job after Richmond was the Stockport Advertiser, alongside Colin who went to the Stockport Express. Two ex-Richmonders head to head. After a year I bust my indentures and went to work at a freelance news agency in York. On the day I left the Advertiser I was summoned to the Accountant’s office down in the bowels of St Petersgate, where a stern man looked over his glasses at me, put a red line in biro through my contract, and told me:”You are now officially dead.” As I turned tail and left the room he added: ”Good luck, you’re going to need it.”
After two years at York I landed a job at the Sunday Express, in Manchester. Five years later I had itchy feet again and joined the Daily Mail Northern staff. Four years on I was out on my ear again ,and I freelanced on my own for ten years, including regular work for The Mail on Sunday where I later joined the staff. I spent 14 years there before redundo struck again. But this time they were pushing against an open door.
Now I spend time with my wife and family and as a career change we have gone into property. We rent out holiday villas in Spain and have some long-term tenants in UK houses. Some stories there, I can tell you! But I wouldn’t be where I am today without those heady days at Richmond. Who can forget the London trip to the House of Commons? Myself, and Nigel Pickover and others I cannot remember made a foray into Soho in search of the pleasures of the flesh. We were hustled into a grubby mucky movie cinema with adrenalin and testosterone coursing through our veins. Sadly, we were disappointed. The dialogue was tame - none of the ‘Pure Filth’ we were promised in bright red flashing lights! As we left, a couple of ladies of the night promised us a good time. “No thanks luv, we're off to the pub" came the answer.
AND THERE'S A VISIT . . .
Andy paid me a visit (August 2023) and persuaded the waitress at
the Fishpond Hotel to take this picture. He later sent me this slightly
embarrassing 'par for the webpage' . . .
It was great to see Gerry and his lovely wife Una. It was quite an
experience when he appeared at the door -- a Dr Livingstone moment.
My wife and I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary this weekend -
but they celebrated 68 this year. Remarkable! We reminisced about
college days, hacks on the road, jazz and life in general, and Gerry rattled
off a few numbers on the piano. Marvellous stuff . So cheers, Gerry, in
your 90th year. Long may you two continue to enjoy your wonderful life.
* * * * * * * Click the link below to read ore of Andy's colourful memories