Death of 'The Gent' - ex-photographer Neil Donald

Tributes have been paid to Neil Donald, an ex-staff photographer with the Birmingham Evening Mail, who has died at the age of 93. He is survived by his widow, Sue.

The funeral service will be Lodge Hill Crematorium, Birmingham, on Friday, 23 September at 10.30 am, followed by a wake at Harborne Golf Club, of which Neil was a member for many years.

Neil Donald with grandson Edward

Former colleague Roland Rowley said:  “Not only was Neil a brilliant photographer but he was a tremendous friend.  He was a loving, family man who will also be remembered for his kindness and sense of humour. Neil was Godfather to my daughter Fay and we will always treasure the times our families spent together. “

Ex-Birmingham Mail photographer Paul Delmar said: “Neil always had real style.  I knew him as ‘The Gent’ – and as a golf legend!”

Before joining the Evening Mail in 1948 (retiring in 1984), Neil served with the RAF – and was always known in subsequent years for his ‘Wing Commander-style’ moustache and dapper style of dress.

Neil lied about his age to join the RAF in 1940 and while based in Lincolnshire he flew 30 missions over Germany as a radio operator in Lancaster bombers.  He never claimed his war medals – but was able to proudly display them after Edward, his step-grandchild,  applied for them on his behalf.

After the war he visited Germany on a family-exchange visit, staying at the home of a former officer in the German army. But his “most memorable” day was when he was photographed alongside German actress-singer Marlene Dietrich during an assignment when she appeared on stage in the Midlands.

Neil was born in Glasgow and, together with his younger brother and sister, spent part of his childhood in boarding schools while his father worked for an oil company in Burma. It wasn’t their favourite place, however– and they often ran away because of their dislike for cold water showers!

New Directors Welcomed on Board at Press Club

Birmingham Press Club – the oldest organisation of its kind in the world - has strengthened its board of directors with the appointment of five leading personalities from the worlds of commerce and media.

The appointments follow the election as Club Chairman of Llewela Bailey, host of BBC WM 95.6FM’s Sunday Breakfast Show – pictured here with new directors Marc Reeves (left) editor-in-chief of Trinity Mirror Midlands; Clive Reeves, managing director of Clive Reeves Public Relations and businesswoman Anita Sharma-James (right).

Also appointed to the Board is Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, and BBC senior broadcast journalist Kevin Pashby.

Llewela said: “At a time when the media industry generally is facing a challenging period, we are very happy to welcome on board new directors whose expertise and experience will be instrumental as we progress our own future.”

She added:  “We have also been encouraged by the recent decision of HSBC to sponsor the Club for a three-year period – a decision that will ensure the continuation of the prestigious Midlands Media Awards, which recognise the achievements of those working in the region’s media sector.”

Marc Reeves, a former editor of both the Birmingham Mail and Birmingham Post, has responsibility for a range of titles in the East and West Midlands in his capacity as Editor-in-Chief of Trinity Mirror Midlands, while his namesake, Clive, heads a successful PR agency with offices in Birmingham and Brussels, whose clients include Selfridges, Park Regis and Opus.

Paul Faulkner took over in June of last year as chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of College after having previously been CEO of Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa. Author Anita Sharma-James, a member of the Press Club Events Committee for several years, is a former medical research scientist who a decade ago set up her own Bromsgrove-based Indian cookery school, and now operates as Anita Sharma-James Events.

Kevin Pashby, who started his career in journalism as a trainee reporter at radio station BRMB, is now producer of BBC WM 95.6 FM’s Danny Kelly mid-morning show, for which he created the concept in 2014.

End of an era for newspaper printing in Worcester

Media website Hold The Front Page has reported that newspaper printing in Worcester has come to an end after 300 years – with a deputy editor lamenting the end of an era.

The Worcester News, a finalist in this year's Midlands Media Awards, and its sister weekly titles are now printed in Oxford.

Writing on his personal blog, John Wilson, deputy editor of the Worcester News, says it is the first time in 30 years that he would not be working for a daily newspaper printed where it is also written and edited.

John Wilson

John Wilson

He added: “It was inevitable. Not as many newspapers are printed now than in their heyday, so fewer presses are needed. Those that remain are the biggest and most technologically advanced. They take in their stride the workload once handled by a dozen smaller presses.

“The move makes the Worcester News more efficient, and that is a vital quality in an industry grappling with the tumultuous changes unleashed by the Internet.

“But I am terribly sad. I am so sorry to see the men who worked on the press, some of them for many years, lose their jobs.”

John’s career has also seen him work at Newcastle-based dailies The Chronicle and The Journal, Stoke-on-Trent-based daily The Sentinel, the Bristol PostWestern Daily Press and Derby Telegraph.

He said: “None are now printed on the premises. The loss of this press, though, feels worse. It’s about history.

“Berrow’s Worcester Journal, the sister paper of the Worcester News, was first published here in the city in 1690, though it was then called the Worcester Post-man, and is the world’s oldest continuously published newspaper (it is also now printed in Oxford, and has been for some time).

“I treasured that connection with the past, with the pioneering successors of William Caxton who raced to bring news to the people once the freedom of the Press had been won from the Stuart monarchy. That link is broken now. The sound of the press at full speed no longer rumbles through our building. A pulse has been stilled.

“I have peered for the last time into that press hall to marvel at a daily publishing miracle and smell air warmed by electric motors and thick with the aromas of newsprint, oil and ink.

“Even after so long in the business it retained the power to enthrall me. I was not alone. Over the years I have watched parties of visitors being led through our building and told the secrets of how newspapers are made.

“They listened politely, of course, but what they were really here for was to see that mighty press; to hear the noise and be thrilled witnesses to the birth of tomorrow’s headlines.

“It was there that the spell of newspapers was strongest, and the reason why so many of us who work on them have been bewitched forever.”

Magnificent Seven Go For “Top Dog” Award

Seven  titles will be competing for the accolade of Newspaper of the Year at next month’s Midlands Media Awards.

Last year’s winner, the Tamworth Herald, will be up against the Birmingham Mail, Derby Telegraph, Hinckley Times, Sunday Mercury, The Sentinel and Worcester News.

The awards, which recognise the achievements of the region’s journalists, broadcasters, photographers and bloggers over the past twelve months, have attracted more than 200 entries; the most competitive category being News Reporter of the Year (Daily), with 36 entries.

Nominated for that award are the Birmingham Mail’s Andy Richards, Jeanette Oldham and Zoe Chamberlain; Chris Mallett and Martin Naylor from the Derby Telegraph, Ben Ireland (Nottingham Post), Antonia Bannister (Coventry Telegraph) and Catherine Phillips (Worcester News).

With HSBC as its headline sponsor, the awards will be held at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on Thursday, 20 October. Further details, and how to book your place at the awards, can be found by logging onto

Award-winning television presenter Suzanne Virdee was chairman of the final judging panel of experienced journalists and communications specialists who scrutinised a shortlist of entries after an initial judging process carried out by a panel of 40 professionals.

Other nominations:

Blogger of the Year: Ruth Emmerson, Sheworechic Blog; Ross Hawkes, Lichfield Live; Alessandro Sorrentino, UK by Numbers and Graham Young, Birmingham Mail

Business Journalist of the Year: Simon Gilbert, Coventry Telegraph; Mark Gough, ITV News Central; Lauren Mills, Leicester Mercury and Peter Plisner, BBC Midlands Today

Campaign of the Year: Martyn Smith, Stourbridge News; Gary Phelps, Nuneaton News and Gary Phelps, Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer

Columnist of the Year: Jenny Amphlett, The Sentinel; Neil Elkes, Birmingham Mail; Robin Johnson, Derby Telegraph; Mike Lockley, Birmingham Mail/Sunday Mercury and Anton Rippon, Derby Telegraph

Feature Writer of the Year: John Butterworth, Black Country Bugle; Zoe Chamberlain, Birmingham Mail; Andy Darlington, Taste the Seasons; Justine Halifax, Sunday Mercury; Mike Lockley, Birmingham Mail and John Woodhouse, The Sentinel

Magazine of the Year: Artsbeat; Birmingham Living; Black Country Bugle; Herefordshire Society; Journal; Midlands Business Insider; Taste the Seasons and University of Derby Magazine

Newcomer of the Year: Rebecca Burrows, ITV News Central; Matthew Dresch, Worcester News; Megan Jones, Free Radio and Nicholas Reid, Tamworth Herald

News Photo of the Year: Chris De Bretton-Gordon, Leicester Mercury; Adam Fradgley, AMA Sports Photo Agency; Ross Hawkes, Lichfield Live; Nick Wilkinson, Birmingham Mail and Graham Young, Birmingham Mail

News Reporter of the Year (Weekly): John Butterworth, Black Country Bugle; Robbie Gordon, The Hinckley Times; Bev Holder, Stourbridge News; Sam Jones, Tamworth Herald; Mike Lockley, Sunday Mercury and Adam Smith, Halesowen News

Radio Journalist of the Year:  Paul Bradbury, Touch FM; Sian Grzeszczyk, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire; Kellie Maddox, Free Radio; Suzie Rack, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire; Amy Stubbs, Global’s Midlands News Room and Kate West, BBC Hereford & Worcester

Scoop of the Year: Tom Edwards, Worcester News and Adam Smith, Halesowen News

Sports Journalist of the Year: Michael Beardmore, Walsall Advertiser; Geoff Berkeley, Worcester News; Steve Clamp, ITV News Central; Les Reid, Coventry Observer; Matt Davies, Nottingham Post; Chris Philpotts, Nuneaton News and James Sharpe, Leicester Mercury

Sports Photographer of the Year: Chris De Bretton-Gordon, Leicester Mercury; Adam Fradgley, AMA Sports Photo Agency; Tim Harley-Easthope, Birmingham Mail and Dale Martin, Freelance

Supplement of the Year: Central Independent News & Media, Education; Lincolnshire Media, The Business; Oxford Times, Oxfordshire Limited Edition; Stratford Herald, Shakespeare 400; Tamworth Herald, Draw the Queen and Tamworth Herald, Archive

Television Journalist of the Year: Qasa Alom, BBC Inside Out West Midlands; Andy Bevan, ITV News Central; Jonathan Gibson, BBC Inside Out West Midlands; Mark Gough, ITV News Central and Sian Grzeszczyk, BBC Midlands Today

The Tony Flanagan News Photographer of the Year: Steve Bould, The Sentinel; Chris De Bretton-Gordon, Leicester Mercury; Adam Fradgley, AMA Sports Photo Agency; Dale Martin, Freelance Nick Wilkinson, Birmingham Mail and Mark Williamson, Stratford Herald

The Birmingham Mail, Black Country Bugle, Sunday Mercury, Taste the Seasons and Walsall Observer have been nominated for Headline of the Year.

For further information on the media awards please contact either Paula Kelsey or Charlotte Widdowson at Cloud 9 Events Management on 0115 933 3811.

Well-known broadcaster to be guest speaker at Journalists’ Charity Celebrity Lunch

Nick Robinson, the presenter of Radio 4’s “Today” programme,  is to be the special guest at this year’s Journalists’ Charity celebrity lunch in Birmingham. He will talk about his life and his work, including his run-ins with the world’s most powerful leaders, as well as taking  questions from the audience.

Nick’s career spans three decades, including spells as political editor for the BBC and ITV. The only journalist to have held both roles., he recently recovered from serious illness which threatened to end his career.

Nick Robinson

The autumn lunch will be held in the Holte Suite at Aston Villa Football Club on Friday 25November. "A healthy society needs journalists willing to provoke public debate and to ask awkward questions,” said Nick. “Only a very few will ever get fame or fortune. The Journalists’ Charity works for the rest – and, therefore, for us all."

The charity has been staging celebrity lunches in Birmingham since 1993 and they have helped the district raise more than £500,000.

Previous speakers have included Sir Michael Parkinson, Chris Tarrant, Sir Richard Branson, Kate Adie, Robert Peston, Jon Snow, Fern Britton and Sir Trevor McDonald.

“All our speakers have given up their free time to join us in Birmingham for our fund-raising lunches,” said Derek Inman, chairman of the charity’s Midlands Branch. “We are very grateful to Nick for agreeing to speak this year so we can maintain our proud record of bringing top class celebrities to the city.”

 “The lunches are attended by all the top media and business people in the region and provide major networking opportunities. They have also gained a reputation for being the most relaxed and enjoyable events in the Midlands. We know we will have another full house,” added Derek.

Individual tickets cost £50 and tables for 10 are priced at a discounted £475. “

For further information and bookings see

The Journalists’ Charity was originally created as the Newspaper Press Society in 1864. Charles Dickens was one of its founders and it has enjoyed royal patronage throughout in 152-year history. The Queen is its current Patron.

The charity provides financial help and advice help for journalists and their dependents in times of difficulty. It also runs its own care home and sheltered housing.