Eve Pollard pictured at the first celebrity lunch with Alan Deeley (centre) and Gerry Armes

Eve Pollard pictured at the first celebrity lunch with Alan Deeley (centre) and Gerry Armes

Pioneering newspaper editor Eve Pollard is to make a return visit to the Midlands to attend the 25th anniversary celebration of the popular celebrity lunches run by the Journalists’ Charity when broadcaster and author Jeremy Paxman will be is the keynote speaker.

This year’s lunch is to take place at Villa Park on Friday, 5 October.

Eve, who became known as “the first lady of Fleet Street”, was only the second female editor of a national newspaper in the UK.  She was the guest speaker at the inaugural lunch, which was held at the Ben Johnson pub, then home to the Birmingham Press Club, in 1993.

The event has now become one of the highlights of the region’s social calendar attended by many the Midlands top media and business leaders.  Previous guest speakers have included Sir Trevor McDonald, Lord (Lew) Grade, Kate Adie, Chris Tarrant, Sir Michael Parkinson, Richard Branson, Fern Britton, Jon Snow, John Sergeant, Nick Robinson and Robert Peston. Together they have helped to raise nearly £400,000 for the charity in the Midlands.

The first lunch was attended by 100 people and the event has grown so much in popularity that the charity is expecting more than 250 guests at this year’s lunch.

Eve edited the Sunday Mirror from 1987 until 1991 and then the Sunday Express until 1994. She was the launch editor for Elle in the United States. Eve is a regular broadcaster and an accomplished author. She was made an OBE in 2008 and is a life vice president of the Journalists’ Charity.

For Jeremy it is also a return to the Midlands where he spent much of his childhood, living at Peopleton near Pershore and Bromsgrove and educated at Malvern College. He read English at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he edited the student newspaper Varsity.

The multi-award-winning broadcaster and writer will talk about his career spanning five decades in radio and television. Best known for his 25-year stint as the anchor of BBC Newsnight, Jeremy has also presented University Challenge since 1994. In a switch of roles, he will answer questions from lunch guests.

The first celebrity lunch was organised by Gerry Armes, then the Midlands branch chairman of the charity - previously known as the Newspaper Press Fund - and the late Alan Deeley who was also chairman of the Birmingham Press Club. Alan’s widow Val is currently the branch secretary.

Gerry, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, is a former chief sports photographer with the Birmingham Post and Mail. He is now the Midlands branch president of the charity, an appointment which recognises his tireless fund-raising work over many years.

He said: “I am delighted that Eve has accepted our invitation to attend our 25th anniversary lunch. What we started back in 1993 sowed the seeds for what has become one of the charity’s most successful and enjoyable fund-raising events in the country.”

Tickets are £55 per person with tables for 10 at £525. For booking information contact Val Deeley val.deeley@live.co.uk.

Debit/Credit card bookings are available at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-audience-with-jeremy-paxman-journalists-charity-west-midlands-annual-lunch-tickets-42760047453.

For further information contact Laurie Upshon at laurie@upshon.com, Derek Inman at derek.inman@btopenworld.com or Val Deeley at val.deeley@live.co.uk.