Daily Mirror legend Syd Young dies aged 82 leaving 'significant legacy across journalism' - obituary

Daily Mirror legend Syd Young dies aged 82 leaving 'significant legacy across journalism'

Daily Mirror legend Sydney Young has died aged 82.

One of the greatest reporters of his generation, Syd (pictured) died in hospital on Friday with his beloved family by his side.

Tributes have flooded in for Syd, who worked for the Mirror in New York, Belfast, London, Manchester and the West Country.

Close friend and former Tony Blair spokesman Alastair Campbell said: “He was a great reporter, but more than that he was a wonderful man.

“What made him a great reporter was that he loved stories and he loved people. What made him a great man was that love for people, and a zest for life.

“I am one of many, many young reporters Syd took under his wing.

“He was one of life’s givers. There in the good times, and the bad. I will miss him hugely.”

Piers Morgan said: “Syd Young wasn’t just a Daily Mirror legend, he was a Fleet Street legend.

“He was a brilliantly inquisitive and persistent journalist with a fabulously well-honed nose for a cracking story, and a wonderful character, beloved by his colleagues.”

Daily Mirror editor Alison Phillips said: “Syd was a true Daily Mirror legend. He was a fantastic reporter – one of the very best of his generation.

“He was a much loved and respected reporter throughout Fleet Street and he will be very much missed.”

Former Sun Editor Stuart Higgins said: “Syd was an inspiration to countless young reporters with his enthusiasm and his passion for the job.

“He loved newspapers and he loved the Mirror. He was an elder statesman for those who started their careers in Bristol offering support and advice even when the competition between us was at its height.

“His wisdom based upon his experience in the troubles of Belfast and the news frenzy of the US gave him an aura of authority but always accompanied by an instinctive dose of humour.

“Despite the fierce rivalry he treated every newly-arrived Sun reporter on his West Country ‘patch’ with the same degree of respect and welcomed them with introductions and even phone numbers in a bonding spirit of reciprocation.

“When I had the opportunity to work in New York for The Sun and I was apprehensive, it was Syd I turned to for advice from a telephone box outside of Bath and he was unequivocal in his verdict.

“Just go. His professionalism and friendliness was also shaped by his loving family and his love and devotion to his family.

“Many of today’s successful journalists, not just in newspapers, owe Syd a debt of gratitude. He has left a significant legacy across journalism, especially newspapers.”

Syd loved people, getting to the root of the story, and righting wrongs. He simply loved journalism.

He served the paper he loved dearly for 37 years before his retirement in 1999.

Syd was particularly proud of his roots in Manchester, where he hailed from the working class streets of Ancoats at a time when the city was a mighty hub of Britain’s newspaper industry.

Posted to Northern Ireland, he earned deserved distinction from his coverage in the early 1970s of the savagery surrounding the erupting terrorist campaign, when bombings and shootings became a brutal fact of daily life.

Next came a dream move to the United States and a prize role in the Mirror’s bustling New York bureau.

“I always wanted to go to America, the original land of opportunity, and I made it,” he commented later.

The move allowed him a front row seat at historic events, including the fall of US President Richard Nixon.

On his return to Britain, he opted for a move to the West Country where he achieved more professional success.

Among the many highlights was the extraordinary Jeremy Thorpe affair, which centred on the allegation that married  Liberal Party leader Thorpe, then a major public figure, paid a hitman to kill his secret gay lover.

A decade later one of the most gruesome British crime stories ever unfolded on his patch.

Up and down the country people looked on in stunned horror as the hideous details of a string of murders at an unremarkable address in Gloucester emerged.

But what had happened behind closed doors at 25, Cromwell Street was anything but unremarkable, as serial killing husband and wife Fred and Rose West plunged to new levels of depravity.

Syd enjoyed 20 years in retirement with wife of nearly 60 years Jackie.

He spent time at home, Spain and in Ireland, particularly Belleek, Fermanagh, which he considered to be a ‘second home’.

Syd spent a ‘phenomenal’ time there with sons Andrew and Jonny just three weeks ago.

He bore the fibrosis and pneumonia, which ultimately claimed him, stoically.

But it could not prevent him raising a laugh and telling tales in the week he was confined to his hospital bed until just hours before his death.

Syd never lost a sense of wonder and appreciation for what he achieved in life and occasionally reflected: “Not too bad for a lad from Ancoats.”

All who knew him would agree: “No indeed – not too bad at all.”

Syd Young is survived by his widow Jackie, sons Andrew and Jonathan, daughter Alison and seven grandchildren.

Funeral details will be announced at a later date.



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