Jim McPheator obit: 'He brought humanity to all we did'

Tributes have been paid to former Leicester Mercury journalist Jim McPheator, who has died aged 63 from the lung condition fibrosis.

Born in Scotland, Jim spent all but five years of his life in Leicestershire, where he attended Bagworth Primary and Ibstock Secondary Modern schools.

He began his journalistic career in 1963 as a cub reporter on the Coalville Times weekly newspaper. A spell in public relations, at Granby Publicity, in Loughborough, followed.

He worked as a reporter on the Loughborough Monitor before joining the Leicester Mercury as a reporter in 1969.

During his 37 years with the Mercury, Jim held a variety of posts.

He became the Loughborough district reporter in 1971. That was followed, in 1979, by the role of deputy news editor, a senior position which included training and mentoring many younger reporters.

In 1999, Jim became the Loughborough district reporter once more and in 2002 he became the North West Leicestershire reporter, based in Coalville. He retired in 2007.

The many stories Jim covered during his career at the Mercury included the 1989 M1 plane crash at Kegworth.

He was the first reporter on the scene and, as well as reporting the events, helped rescuers lift survivors out of the wreckage.

He also covered Pope John Paul II’s historic visit to Coventry in 1982.

The people Jim interviewed for the Mercury ranged from former prime minister Margaret Thatcher to comedian Les Dawson.

Leicester Mercury deputy editor Richard Bettsworth said: ‘Everybody at the Leicester Mercury is saddened at Jim’s death and our sympathies go to his family.

‘He was a key member of the team over many years and he will be missed both as a colleague and friend. He loved the job of journalism and always wanted to make every story as well told as possible.

‘He was a kind and considerate man, who was both thoroughly professional and a gentleman.”

Former Leicester Mercury journalist Ather Mirza, now director of press at the University of Leicester, said: ‘In life there are people who have enriched it simply by knowing them. Jim was one of them.

‘He helped bring humanity to all we did.”

Harry Martin, another former colleague and a close friend, said: ‘Jim was a journalist in that time-honoured tradition of ‘tell it how it is’.

‘It was a privilege to work with him and enjoy the cheerful company of a steadfastly true friend for 35 years.”

Before his ill health, Jim enjoyed playing darts and was formerly captain of the Richmond Arms team, in Shepshed.

A lifelong sports fan and Leicester City supporter, he had been married for 42 years to Janet. The couple lived in Coalville. They have two sons – Craig and Glyn – and a daughter, Alison, plus three granddaughters.

His funeral will be held at St John the Baptist Church, in Whitwick, at 10am, on Friday, 18 February. It will be followed by a short service at Loughborough Crematorium.

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