Leicester Mercury Loughborough reporter Harry Martin dies, age 72
Long-standing Mercury Loughborough reporter Harry Martin has died. Ever the true professional Harry had written his own obituary which we reproduce below.
The Leicester Mercury's former Loughborough district reporter, Harry Martin, has died at the age of 72, following an eight-month fight with neck and tongue cancer.
Harry worked as the Mercury's man in Loughborough from May 1989 until September 2001.
Before that, he had operated on the Mercury Group's weekly, the Loughborough Monitor, in 1976, and as assistant editor of its successor, the Loughborough News, from 1977.
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Prior to joining the Mercury Group, Harry had been a reporter on the Nottingham Evening Post and had co-founded the Topic Magazine Group.
He also broadcast for BBC Radio East Midlands, from its Nottingham studios in the 1960s.
Later, with the arrival of local radio and the station BBC Radio Leicester, he co-presented a live, late-night Sunday show for 18 months, before being given his own professional and amateur theatre show, Stage Spot, which ran for another 18 months, during which it was broadcast twice-weekly.
Most shows were pre-recorded, but some went out live, including the official opening of the Haymarket Theatre, on location, in the heart of Leicester.
Well-known as a public speaker, for more than 20 years Harry provided a live day-long commentary on the annual Sutton Bonington Village Show, for which he was billed as "the Voice of the Show".
Harry was known as a "ladies man", and a serious ornithologist, for his fondness for drink and the conviviality it engendered, and for a degree of elegance with which he invariably dressed and which was reflected in his distinctive prose.
On the occasion of his retirement from the Mercury, all this prompted the-then editor-in-chief Nick Carter to observe: "Harry was all about birds, booze and style."
Harry's widow, retired primary school teacher Sandra, said: "Harry liked that – said he would have it on his headstone."
He also leaves a son, Simon, a former Leicester Mercury employee who now lectures in multimedia studies at Central College Nottingham.
Born in Shepshed, Harry was a pupil at the former state grammar Loughborough College School.
The family has lived in Sutton Bonington since 1983.
Dear boy... People spoke to you as they knew you would get it right
Features writer Lee Marlow recalls working with Harry
Dear Boy. That’s what he would call you, whoever you were.
“Ah, dear boy,” he would say and if you were in the pub with him – and chances are, with Harry, that might well be the case – he’d be first at the bar, digging into his pocket, wanting to buy you a drink.
Harry, the Mercury’s former Loughborough correspondent, was an old-fashioned journalist.
There were no search engines or social media sites in his day. All Harry had was a bulging contacts book, a homing instinct for the best stories and a conscience.
Harry reported the right way; face to face, telling the truth as he saw it.
He knew if he did things properly, got things right, told the story the way it should be told, then he’d be welcomed back again. Harry was welcomed everywhere in Loughborough.
I remember reading Harry’s stories as a young reporter: brilliant human interest tales, superbly told, that began their lives on the pages of the Mercury and often ended up in Fleet Street.
There was the old chap he found in a graveyard in Long Whatton, digging his own grave. The senior police officer sacked for taking drugs. Over two pages, he bared his soul to Harry. He chose Harry, presumably, because he knew Harry would get it right.
The man who built his own house without planning permission. When the bulldozers turned up to knock it down, Harry was in the kitchen, drinking tea with the family.
He managed this not with an impertinent foot in the door but with a winning mixture of elegance – he enjoyed the theatre, dear boy – and an effortless, easy-going charm.
If you were lucky enough to work with him in the old Loughborough office, you were in for treat.
He’d work you like a dog in the morning and then as soon as the clock struck 12, he’d switch off his screen and escort you to the club next door.
After a leisurely liquid lunch, the afternoons were usually much more relaxed. I lost count of the number of times he told me about the time he had lunch with Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood on the set of Where Eagles Dare but it was such a splendid tale its familiarity didn’t seem to matter.
God Bless you, Dear Boy. It was a pleasure to know you, to work with you and to drink with you.