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UNISON


Lorna Birchley


Lorna Birchley was an award-winning journalist with BBC news and current affairs programmes. She worked with investigative programmes and as a Panorama and Newsnight producer, but will be remembered most for her spirit in defending the rights of people with disabilities at work. Born in 1957, Lorna was academically gifted, and


attended Bishop’s Holt Grammar School. Aged 13, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, an illness that made school and university studies tough. In 1982, Lorna was sacked from a trainee post


at the Middlesex Advertiser when the company claimed she had failed to fill in her application form correctly by not disclosing her diabetes. Lorna refused to accept this and the group


chapel went on strike. After two weeks of action, the company reinstated her. There was another happy ending – it was on the picket line that she met her future husband Dick Bower, FoC at the NUJ chapel in Ealing. They married in 1988. They had one daughter, Lizzie, who was born in 1993. Later she worked as a freelance in BBC local radio then moved to Radio 4’s In Touch, where she campaigned for the rights of blind and partially sighted people at work. She then joined the station’s Face the Facts, where she broke the story of BSE, a scoop that opened doors to BBC TV programmes. She worked for Panorama, interviewing defecting KGB colonel and British secret agent Oleg Gordievsky, and covering the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe. As her health deteriorated, she had to give up her career at the BBC. Lorna then worked as head of communications for the Classics for All charity. She will be remembered as a journalist of


impeccable integrity, whose commitment to justice went hand in hand with a determination to get the facts absolutely right.


Patrick Kelly 24 | theJournalist


Chris Bartter


Chris Bartter, socialist, journalist, trade unionist and campaigner, died on 28 October aged 64 from a heart attack. Larger than life, he was a lay publicity activist


and campaigner in Scotland when I first met him in the 1980s when I was a publicity field organiser for public service union Nalgo (now Unison). Scotland was his adopted home. Chris was born in north London then moved to Dorking in Surrey before moving on to Glasgow to study at the University of Strathclyde. In 1975, he went to work at the Mitchell Library, now one of Europe’s largest public libraries. There he joined Nalgo and met his partner Doreen Keen. Chris moved from being a leading publicity and campaigning activist to become the union’s first full-time Scottish communications organiser, where he inspired and trained may lay activists in publicity and campaigning skills. He also had great organising skills, chairing the


7:84 theatre company, building Glasgow’s citywide trade union May day festival and, following his retirement from Unison, helping to launch the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation and the Havana Glasgow Film Festival. Chris was a regular contributor to the cultural


pages of the Morning Star and his blog Grumping with the Captain had a big following. He was also a tireless campaigner for the Scottish Freedom of Information Campaign. But it was not a solo act; Doreen, who survives him, was also his partner in his political and campaigning work. Chris had a great sense of humour as well as


great kindness. He is sorely missed not only by his army of friends but also by all who came into contact with him. His life has been an inspiration for many and he will live on in our hearts and minds.


Barry White


Jim Brennan


Jim Brennan, a trailblazer in journalism training and an NUJ member of honour, has died aged 96. Jim was the first full-time lecturer in the early


days of the National Council for the Training of Journalists in the early 1960s, setting up a course in Harlow, Essex. His career began at the Derby Evening Telegraph in 1939, but was interrupted by the Second World War, in which he served as a paratrooper. After being demobbed, he returned to newspapers, working in Fleet Street as a reporter for The People. Jim was a pioneer in journalism training. He was


involved with the NCTJ from its creation, first as a member of the network of volunteers from the NUJ and the Newspaper Society who ran courses. Jim worked at The Guardian in Manchester, as a radio producer for the BBC in the north west, and spent some time training journalists in China. Beyond retirement age, he freelanced, using the


new medium of the internet to launch what he called “news-viewsletters” starting with the weekly Derby Guardian, then the Derbyshire Guardian and titles for Leicester, Lincoln and Nottingham. In his mid 80s, he set up an electronic


newsletter for over-80s silver surfers, and lobbied political parties on behalf of the National Pensioners Convention. He was chair of Derby and Burton branch for a


number of years, which I chair now. He was a mainstay of the branch and, with other officers, made sure it met regularly. Jim was dedicated to journalism and training and helping young reporters for many years. He continued working and campaigning almost until the age of 90, a remarkable feat. Jim’s wife of 75 years, Mary, died in 2014. He is


survived by a son and daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren.


Kevin Palmer


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