THE UK's first female editor of a newspaper Yvonne Evans, who spent her entire career at the Bury and Radcliffe Times, has died aged 85.

Yvonne, who lived in Prestwich, trained as a reporter at the Church Street office of the Radcliffe Times, from the time she left Manchester University with an English degree from 1955, under then-editor Harry Spencer and went on to become editor when he retired in 1973.

Under her leadership, the weekly newspaper, now a sister title to The Bolton News, Lancashire Telegraph and The Oldham Times, was recognised as a training ground for scores of journalists who have gone on to work in the regional and national press and in broadcasting.

After the Radcliffe Times office was relocated to Bury in the 1990s, Yvonne remained a popular figure among colleagues until her retirement in 1999.

She was renowned for her steadfast determination to teach reporters who worked with her to be diligent, fair and accurate when writing stories about the Radcliffe community, and was unrelenting in ironing out flaws in their grammar and spelling.

Many of her former proteges remained firm friends with a journalist they regarded as the "ultimate professional with a heart of gold", long after moving on from Radcliffe.

Former colleague Neil Brandwood, who organised her retirement event in 1999, said: "She was incredibly proud of being the first female editor of a newspaper in the UK. She was even interviewed on Woman's Hour on Radio 4 on the subject.

"All of us who worked with her couldn't help respecting her. And she became a wonderful friend. Yvonne belonged to the old school where if you did something wrong you would be told in no uncertain terms.

"But when she paid you a compliment, you knew it really meant something. She made all of the young professionals she worked with better journalists.

"I visited her at her home four weeks ago and she was in fine spirits. She had a wonderful sense of humour."

Former colleague Lynda Dunlevy, who worked with Yvonne in the 1960s, said: "Yvonne was a superb professional. She loved wearing gorgeous clothes - Mary Quant was her favourite."

It is understood Yvonne died as a result of a fall on her stairs at her Orford Road home on Monday, May 18.

She was found by niece Laraine Darlington, 73, who visited Yvonne regularly throughout the week. Her second niece Glinys Horton, 70, was also a frequent visitor.

Laraine said: "She was a much-loved aunt, great aunt and great great aunt. If she had a point of view, she wouldn't hesitate to make it known in a very strong voice, despite her small physical stature.

"She was in a healthy state, in body and mind, and she was planning to take us out on a family meal after the coronavirus lockdown was over. And she always treated the family to a meal out at Christmas.

"She was a wonderful, generous person, who always told us to let her know if we were struggling. We will all miss her."

Glinys said: "Yvonne was very keen on amateur dramatics and was a member of Prestwich Thespians after leaving university."

Yvonne leaves her two nieces, a great-nephew and a great-niece, four great-great nephews and a great-great niece.


The funeral take place at Agecroft Cemetery and Crematorium on Monday, June 8, at 11am. Only 10 attendees are permitted but well wishers can pay their respects outside.