obituaries BOBBIE HARVEY

Mickey McPhillips David Lorimer Guy Thornton

Mickey McPhillips, who tragically took his own life at the end of November in his 55th year, possessed multiple skills. Before entering journalism, he worked as a

carpenter. In that work he had been a perfectionist, making kitchens, grandfather clocks and pieces of furniture that are still used in his home area around Newtownbutler in Co Fermanagh. As a photographer, he has left a huge archive of photographs and videos. Most of these are of his home area, but he also left pictures of New York. These included images of the firefighters who took part in the rescue efforts on 9/11. Another of his abilities was research. He traced

the roots of Scott Fitzgerald in the Newtownbutler area. The writer’s maternal grandfather, Philip McQuillan, had emigrated to America from there in the early 1840s. Mickey found a record of Fitzgerald’s great-grandfather and located family graves and the ruins of the family home. A few years ago, he showed Fitzgerald’s grand-daughter and grandson around the area. Grand-daughter Eleanor Lanahan said: “Mickey was extremely generous with his time and he made our ancestors come alive.” He was steeped in the history of his home area, being the driving force behind Newtownbutler History Society. On most days, he walked around Galloon Island in Upper Lough Erne. Among its attractions for him were the ruins of a monastery. He was committed to helping his community, once saying: “The village of Newtownbutler means everything to me.” Personally, he held a deep Christian faith and

happily accepted being ribbed about it. An outgoing individual, he had a gift for friendship. The lockdown had cut him off from people. He

lived with his elderly mother. Never physically robust, he developed symptoms similar to those of Covid, and feared infecting her. Tragically, the pressures overwhelmed him. On the day after his death, his test result came back clear of Covid. Mickey is survived by his mother Peggy, sister

Cora and brothers Richard, Eamonn, Jimmy and Tony.

Anton McCabe 24 | theJournalist

One of the real characters of Teesside journalism, proud Yorkshireman and former Evening Gazette chief reporter and news editor David Lorimer has died after a long battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Born in 1945 and educated at Leeds Grammar School, Lorimer – as he was known – formed a long association with the Green Howards, now part of the Yorkshire Regiment. He reported from their tours of duty, including during the Troubles in Northern Ireland and received a North East Press Award for his coverage from Kosovo. He continued his links with the Green Howards after leaving the Gazette in 2001, visiting the battalion in Afghanistan in 2004 and Bosnia in 2006. General Lord Nick Houghton of Richmond

said: “All Green Howards will be saddened by the news of David Lorimer’s death. He was, for 50 years, a loyal and intimate supporter and reporter of our regimental fortunes.” There have been many tributes from old

colleagues. Ex-Gazette chief photographer and former father of the chapel Dave Jamieson said: “He was a first-class reporter and a great NUJ stalwart who was always there when we had our Gazette strikes.”

Martin Gould, another former Gazette father

of chapel (now working for the Daily Mail in New York), recalled on Facebook how Lorimer had sought him out after 30 years as he knew his time was nearly up and wanted to make contact before ‘stumps were drawn’. He was described as ‘a cracking journalist’ by another former Gazette colleague, Paul Frost, who said: “The inky trade has lost a great character and a wonderful raconteur.” One of his proudest moments was being

presented with honorary membership of the Green Howards and receiving a statuette from the Green Howards Association during a regimental reunion in Middlesbrough in 2015. David died peacefully at home in Redcar on December 2 and is survived by his wife Helen, children Victoria, James and Nicky, and grandson Atlas.

Nic Mitchell

Veteran NUJ activist Guy Thornton, who helped organise the union in Europe, died suddenly on January 20. In 1994, I’d not been in Holland long before this

garrulous Yorkshireman phoned out of the blue. He was trying to reach Dutch NUJers. His enthusiasm and energy were irresistible and, dare I say, overbearing. Within months, he, I and Belinda Stratton had met and, with the help of Bob Norris, then the assistant general secretary, NUJ Netherlands was born. Then, the NUJ’s continental European council (CEC) was set up. Neither would have happened, I believe, without Guy. Born in Thornton-Le-Dale in North Yorkshire,

Guy attended the University of Leeds, writing for the student paper alongside Paul Dacre, later Daily Mail editor. He moved to Denmark before settling in Amsterdam to a life of freelance writing about the Netherlands, politics and beer among other issues for outlets such as the New Statesman, The Guardian and the BBC. He was a keen member of the British Guild of Beer Writers and the Dutch Foreign Press Association. A major press event in the Netherlands was not quite complete until he arrived. Guy, the first Netherlands branch chair, would call me almost every week for 27 years with a question about the NUJ or his beloved Leeds United. He never missed a branch meeting, even chairing meetings from a rehabilitation centre after he was knocked off his bike by a tram and seriously injured. Nor did he ever miss a delegate meeting. The NUJ was, in many ways, his life. When I thought it time to challenge him for the post of chair, I was worried how he’d take it. He asked me if it would be better if he disappeared into the sunset. I insisted he had a lot more to offer. I’m glad he chose not to sulk. We had eight more years of Guy and his knowledge and experience have been invaluable. It seems strange he will no longer regale me for the umpteenth time about attending the 1966 World Cup Final. There were times, of course, when he drove me screaming round the bend, but I loved him dearly and will miss him.

Tony Sheldon

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