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Fond memories shared of former Gazette journalist
4:00pm Wednesday 8th August 2012 in Devizes
More than 80 friends and relatives attended St James’s Church in Devizes on Monday to pay tribute to veteran journalist John Leech.
Mr Leech died last week aged 92 and friends he made over his 45 years at the Gazette & Herald were among the congregation for the celebration of his life, led by vicar of St James, the Rev Jonathan Triffitt.
It was a service Mr Leech would have enjoyed, with full-bodied hymns such as Praise My Soul the King of Heaven, and readings from Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy and John Donne.
The eulogy was given by family friend, the Rev Francis Chadwick, who said it was no insult to call him a quirky gentleman.
“Devizes was very much the blood that flowed through John’s veins,” said Mr Chadwick.
Mr Leech was born in Devizes, where his father was medical superintendent of Roundway Hospital, the county mental asylum.
He was educated at Dauntsey’s School and, upon leaving, joined the Gazette & Herald as a cub reporter, spending his whole working life with the paper.
He loved working in the Devizes office and somewhat resented the three days a week when he had to commute to Swindon to fulfil his position as sub-editor.
His great joy was writing the leader page, a column of three editorials and a diary – under the pseudonym Joe Blunt – in which he exercised his distinctive writing style and wry sense of humour.
Mr Chadwick said: “He wrote copiously. His favour-ite authors were Barrie, Shaw and Dickens and, indeed, he developed a slightly Dickensian look in older age.
“I had in my notes the name “gentleman” but I have been asked to include the adjective “quirky”. God has a lot of time for quirky people.
“John, we will miss you for all the love and wisdom we shared.”
There was a retiring collection for Parkinson’s UK and mourners were invited to a reception at the Hour Glass pub in Horton Avenue.
Among those in the congregation were Mr Leech’s former colleagues at the Gazette, Terry Gaylard, Nigel Kerton, Colin Kearly and Lesley Fox.