National newspaper reporter and news agency boss Frank Gilbride has died of Covid-19 just two weeks after his 61st birthday.
Born in a tough area of Glasgow and as the eldest of six siblings, Frank became a carer for his brothers and sisters after his mother suffered an illness that left her confined to a wheelchair.
He took up journalism, starting as a reporter at Welsh news agency Dragon before coming to London to work for national newspapers including The Sun, Evening Standard and Daily Mirror.
At The Sun on a late-night freelance shift, he was the first to find out about the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster in 1988 in time for the paper’s late editions, which were the only ones to carry the full extent of the horror.
He later left London to return to his native Scotland in the 1990s where he set up the agencies Press Team and Newsflash. His coverage of the Dunblane massacre of 1996, close to his home, was so comprehensive that his copy was used across the globe.
Frank was an active member of the National Association of Press Agencies (NAPA).
He later left journalism to pursue a variety of careers from PR to property investment and even as a taxi driver and carer, anything to provide for wife Mair and his five children.
NAPA executive member, Mark Solomons, said: “I’ve known Frank for more than 30 years. We did shifts on papers together in the 1980s then both left to set up agencies in the 1990s.
“We were colleagues on papers and at NAPA but, most of all, good friends and I, like so many others, will miss him terribly. Covid-19 has taken so many wonderful people away from us.
“Frank had a passion for journalism as well as golf, Scotland and his beloved Celtic. But most of all he was a family man, close to his siblings and father to five fantastic children as well as a great friend.”
Picture: Frank Kilbride with his wife Mair