'He was a real-one off with a rebellious streak': Tributes paid to 'persistent' journalist and former assistant editor of the Leamington Courier, Tom Price

At the age of 85, he joined Facebook where he cultivated something of a following for his bitingly satirical remarks aimed at the establishment

Tom Price

Tributes have been paid to veteran soldier and former assistant editor of the Leamington Courier, Tom Price who has died aged 93.

He passed away at Northampton General Hospital on June 1 after a brief illness.

Tom leaves his wife of 34 years Penny Price, his four children, four grandchildren and his beloved dog, Bullet.

Tom was born on October 16, 1927, in Birmingham and was brought up in the town of Oldbury, Smethwick.

From an early age, there were clear signs that Tom was destined for a life in journalism.

Through his own initiative, while attending Oldbury High Grammar school, he led the production of a handwritten magazine featuring articles and cartoons submitted by his fellow classmates; it was silly, irreverent, and apparently not all that complementary about either the school or its teachers. When the headmaster eventually caught wind of this, he was – at first – taken aback by some of the content of the magazine.

But he was willing to overlook its rebellious streak because he could not help acknowledging the precocious talent Tom possessed for, not only writing, but also for his abilities to organise and delegate tasks.

Shortly after leaving grammar school, the headmaster helped Tom to land his first job as a cub reporter at The Smethwick Telephone. From here, he never looked back. Before he became the founder and editor of the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Review, he had over 30 years’ worth of experience as a newspaper man in various parts of Britain.

As well as being a freelance correspondent for many Fleet Street newspapers, he was formerly editor of the Nuneaton Observer, assistant editor of the Leamington Spa Courier, founder and editor of the Coventry Express, and editor of the Bedworth and Foleshill News.

He had also been the Midland regional secretary of the National Union of Journalists for 10 years, and an associate member of the International Conference of Weekly Newspaper Editors.

Colleagues from those years recall him as a journalist of great resourcefulness and go-go-vitality, who could turn his hand to anything. The late John Fairhall, who worked with Tom at the Smethwick Telephone, and later became one of the most highly esteemed correspondents for The Guardian, said of Tom in 2015: "He was a real-one off…every Thursday morning the news and sub-editor, would arrive looking troubled and tell us, ‘I don’t know what we're going to fill this with, lads. We're three or four columns short.’

"Tom would rummage in his pockets and produce a couple of fag packets inscribed with his small and beautifully accurate shorthand notes. A couple of phone calls, and the editor would have his columns filled. Tom very usefully was able to write shorthand while drunk, and then be able to read it back the next day."

He was behind campaigns for fairness in competitions featured in the national press.

Noah Price said: "If there was ever a word to describe Tom, it was the word ‘persistent.’

"Even after he retired at the age of 65, he never stopped trying to find out how the world works or what makes people tick. He was a Labour Daventry District councillor for eight years, and church organist at Norton village church for 16 years.

"At the age of 85, he joined Facebook where he cultivated something of a following for his bitingly satirical remarks aimed at the establishment. He will be remembered most for his wit, compassion, his involvement in local Daventry community initiatives, the way he always fought for what he believed was right, and for the generosity of his spirit."