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News legend dies aged 77
A FORMER Bury Times reporter who went on to edit the Daily Star and Sunday Express during a glittering journalistic career has been killed in an accident in Spain.
Brian Hitchen, aged 77, and his 80-year-old wife Nelli, died when they were in a collision with a car while out walking in Altea, near Alicante, on Sunday.
The couple had been due to return to Hove, East Sussex, from their Spanish holiday home this week.
Mr Hitchen was aged just 17 when he joined the Bury Times (BT) at its offices in the town’s Cross Street. Former BT colleague John Chadwick said: “He was soon covering the village of Ainsworth, from which he returned with some great stories.
“Always a bright spark in the newsroom, he had to be restrained at times from singing, rather tunelessly, a popular song of the day, ‘I Am A Bandit From Brazil.’ “All of us had many a Friday evening outing to pubs in outlying villages like Ainsworth and Blackford Bridge, squeezed into the back of the Bury Times delivery van. Then I joined Reuters and Brian went on to make a big impact, across Fleet Street, at papers like the Daily Express.
“Over the years, our paths continued to cross. We shared many a laugh, telephonically, over old days at the Bury Times.
“Always ready for a laugh, but intolerant of hypocrisy, this ex-BT man truly left a mark.”
Another ex-Bury Times colleague, Roy Heron, also paid tribute: “Brian was indeed a legend in The Street of Adventure but he learned his craft while working on The Bury Times under the tutelage of the editor, Wilf Ainscow and the then news editor, Frank Thomas, who eventually took over Wilf's chair.
“I joined the BT when I was 20, at about the same time as Brian, who was then a 17-year-old trainee.
“When I left Bury to seek a job in Fleet Street I watched in admiration Brian's progress from the Manchester Evening News to the Daily Mirror and on to Express Newspapers, accompanied by a stream of by-lined scoops.
“We did not meet again for some years and then John Chadwick, Brian and I found ourselves in London working within 100 yards of each other — John as a top man with Reuters and I as weekend editor of the Press Association, the national news and pictures agency, while Brian was across the road as editor of the Sunday Express and later of the Daily Star.”
Mr Hitchen, who was awarded the CBE in 1990, worked for the Daily Mirror and the National Enquirer in the USA.
He was editor of the Daily Star from 1987 to 1994 and held the same post at the Sunday Express in 1995.
He later established his own media company.
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