When I was asked to write a tribute to David Edmunds, former editor of the Carmarthen Journal, who died on New Year’s Eve, I thought what can I say about someone who had been a close friend and colleague for more than 50 years?
A modest man, I do not think David would be over enamoured about having a tribute written about him, but in view of his long and respected career in journalism in Carmarthen and over a much wider area, I believe that many will agree that he thoroughly warrants one. David – he will always be Dai to me – was a journalist of the old school, seeped in the traditions of a reporter equipped with pencil and notebook. He was able to record 140 words a minute, never forgetting that accuracy was paramount. It was this emphasis on accuracy which earned David the deserved trust of a long line of council officials, senior police officers, civil servants and members of the public. During all the years I knew him, I never witnessed a correction being published in connection with anything he had reported. As a colleague, he seemed rather distant in the beginning, but once you got to know him you realised what a kind and helpful person he was. Many a time when he and I returned to the office after covering a complicated job, David would offer advice and even push me a copy of his completed report for guidance. David had a store of anecdotes and I loved listening to him relating them over a cup of tea in Tony Conti’s cafÃ© in King Street before or after covering a job.
Outwardly, David never seemed to panic, but there was one occasion I remember him appearing to lose his composure, when his car was stolen from outside the Journal office.
David was born in Llanelli and trained on the town’s Guardian newspaper. I recall he also turned out a few times for the famous Llanelli Scarlets. Before the outbreak of the Second World War, he volunteered for military service, naively believing that getting in early would be more advantageous than waiting to be conscripted. He joined the Royal Artillery, was promoted to sergeant-in-command of a gun crew and saw active service all over Europe. He was demobbed in 1946, bringing home a portable typewriter, which he acquired in Germany for a packet of cigarettes and which served him well for the next 40 years. Following his wartime marriage to Eileen, they settled in Heol-y-Delyn in 1946, when David was appointed the Western Mail’s staff reporter in Carmarthen, a position he held until 1962 when he was appointed editor of the Carmarthen Journal, retiring in 1984. During his long and prestigious career as a reporter, David covered all the major stories in Carmarthen and over a wider area, including several infamous murder trials at the Assizes. Another story David reported on was the funeral of Dylan Thomas in Laugharne. He also recalled witnessing the awesome ritual of a High Court judge at an Assize sentencing a murderer to death. An easy-going character, I never saw David quarrel or lose his temper. One final tribute. He was a devoted family man who was hit hard by the death of Eileen two years ago after 60 years of marriage, but he took great comfort in his children, Noel and Janet, his son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. If there is a busy newsroom in the great beyond I am sure David will be welcomed there and soon be hammering out stories, possibly on a new typewriter, or if it is an up-to-date office, on an electronic screen.