Hugh Jones - Press Gazette

Hugh Jones, a Fleet Street sub-editor for more than 25 years, died suddenly on 14 April. He was 68.

In fact, this was the second time he had died. The first was on the operating table at St Bart's Hospital, London, while doctors were performing a heart bypass operation on him. They had exposed his heart when it stopped beating.

The medical team coped with the emergency so successfully that, within two days, Hugh was walking the ward.

His daily battle against diabetes and heart problems was won, sometimes easily and sometimes with difficulty.

He never really recovered from the shock of going into a diabetic coma while doing his national service in his late teens. That was Hugh's first glimpse of death. He was swiftly back in civvy street and journalism.

He was a contemporary of Steve Turner, the BAJ general secretary, in the 1950s. Hugh was a reporter with the Romford Recorder and Steve was with the Romford Times. They remained close friends.

Hugh, newly married to Barbara, began his nomadic trek to Fleet Street via Brighton at the Evening Argus and Manchester at the Daily Mail before arriving at the Daily Mail in London in the 1960s, becoming a highly rated news sub.

Then Rupert Murdoch came to town and Hugh moved to The Sun for a while. But it didn't suit him and he moved to the Daily Mirror features subs' desk in 1974.

He was a talented, much-liked operator. He was kind, patient and helpful without drawing attention. He crafted strong, creative sentences which were a joy to read.

But physically, he was wearing out and the doctor's plasters never quite patched him up. What kept him going was his indefatigable spirit and the tenacity of a limpet. He put everything into what he did and got things right.

During one stay at Bart's, the doctors prised Hugh's Tottenham Hotspur season ticket out of his hand and talked him out of renewing it. Instead, they encouraged him to follow more peaceful pursuits in his spare time.

He took to the theatre and the opera with enthusiasm. His favourite opera was Rigoletto.

While on another stay at Bart's while on long-term sick leave, Hugh dropped into the Mirror office in Holborn to check on the progress of new technology. In those days, there was no need to provide DNA to get through the door.

The astonishing changes in the office shocked him. He never returned, and retired on ill-health grounds in 1993.

He often came out to lunch with me during his retirement to keep in touch with the gossip. But one call from me was answered with: "He can't make it. He's at the opera." What about tomorrow? "The opera's in Vienna."

Hugh accumulated several more nagging problems which forced him to use a walking stick. But he learned French and crossed the Channel several times.

He visited ex-Mirror colleague John Garton in Florida – a fellow jazz fan. He was deeply into emails, but still enjoyed penning beautifully handwritten, epigramesque letters to friends.

When Hugh stopped working, he set out to use his talents to write letters for neighbours. He phrased their problems with an incisive style and achieved remarkable results. His radical political thoughts also spiced up many letters to councils, newspapers and companies.

Then came divorce from his second wife, Brenda. He survived but was greatly changed. When he moved to his flat two years ago, he became much more relaxed.

Through his tough life, Hugh bravely carried enough medical baggage to see off a ward of patients. But he never complained. He was always clear about the next step to make things easier.

Then – whack. He planned to see an ice hockey match in Coventry with his stepson, Andrew, but didn't feel up to it. He died within hours.

The shock of Hugh's death brought enormous sadness and astonishment at the loss of a fighter who overcame so many odds. He is survived by his daughter, Laura, stepson Andrew and his partner, Jane Howard. His first wife, Barbara, predeceased him.

Wherever Hugh is, he will have written a protest letter pointing out to the powers-that-be that insufficient time was allowed for the terms and conditions of his contract to be fulfilled

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