New RMG team: Andrew Kelly (right) and Matthew Knowles
One month after freelance Alec Marr died suddenly of a heart attack, his oldest friend in journalism has kept a graveside vow to save his agency.
Andrew Kelly, former editor of the Plymouth-based Sunday Independent and Bedfordshire on Sunday, made a promise to 39-year-old Marr’s widow, Nadia, at the Monaco funeral that he would not see his old pal’s work go to waste.
Kelly recently launched his own news agency, the Associated Media Group, in Milton Keynes.
Within hours of the pledge, he and his partner, Matthew Knowles – former political editor of The Times in Scotland, ex-senior reporter on the Mail on Sunday, Scotland, and former editor of Luton on Sunday – pitched in to re-launch Marr’s operation in a single month.
Marr’s major newspaper clients in London, the US and Australia were immediately supportive and his string of a dozen loyal photographers in Europe have agreed to work with the new Riviera Media Group agency rather than take their work elsewhere.
Kelly, who has been commuting between Luton and the Riviera, took over the reins this week from an office in Menton, France.
Knowles will work with him for the first month or so before returning to Milton Keynes where new AMG staffer, Maurice Jones – former editor of the Cyprus Mail, former news editor of Luton on Sunday and Bedfordshire on Sunday, and editor of The Miner during the miners’ strike – will have been watching the shop.
“When I made my vow,” said Kelly, “it was in the heat of the moment: an emotional thing. Almost immediately, I was worried that it would be impossible to keep … getting Alec’s show back on the road within a month. It had taken him 18 years to build the agency. But the support has been unbelievable.
“He was so well-liked and respected that we’ve had nothing but warm encouragement from his clients and enthusiastic agreement to stick together from his photographers in Italy and France.
“Matt and I know the risks, of course, of being strangers in strange lands. But something else I know is that Alec would have done the same for me.”