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October 10, 2022updated 19 Oct 2022 6:32am

Long-time ‘dominant personality’ of Evening Standard subs desk Ian Stocks dies aged 84

By Chris Stokel-Walker

Ian Stocks, a much-loved and respected figure in the Evening Standard newsroom across four decades, has died at the age of 84.

Born in Liverpool in 1938, Ian (pictured, second from right at the back) cut his journalistic teeth as a reporter on the city’s Echo newspaper.

Starting in 1960, his early career coincided with Liverpool’s emergence as the epicentre of the country’s new music scene led by the Beatles. The highlight of his time at the Echo was covering the band’s civic reception at Liverpool Town Hall in July 1964.

His first job also saw him cross paths with many of the city’s other star names at the time, including Gerry Marsden, Jimmy Tarbuck and a young Cilla Black, who he interviewed in her parents’ flat.

He would later tell colleagues he proudly adopted Scotch and Coke as his drink of choice after being introduced to it by George Harrison during an interview at a Liverpool pub in the early 60s.

Ian moved to London in 1965, where he started shifting on the Daily Sketch before joining the Standard as a sub-editor the following year. Over the next 30 years, he made an indelible mark as a larger-than-life figure in the newsroom, firstly in the Standard’s Fleet Street offices and latterly at Northcliffe House following the paper’s relocation to Kensington in 1988.

He also started a Saturday shift at the Sunday Express in 1967 which he continued until his retirement in 1996. It was here he met his wife Betty Fryer, who was the newsdesk secretary.

But it was the Standard where he is most fondly remembered.

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Former Evening Standard sub-editors. Back l-r: Andy Chisholm, Amanda Pierce, Robin Britcher, Wendy Sayers, Ian Stocks, Graham Jones. Front l-r, Nigel Griffiths, Dave Senington, Louisa Parton, John Kelsey.

John Kelsey, who Ian took under his wing when he joined the paper in 1989, said: “He was the dominant personality on the subs desk, everyone liked him, he was really funny and had a treasure-trove of catchphrases.

“He defended the Standard’s traditions like the pudding break at about quarter to three in the afternoon so we all trooped down to the canteen and ate some pudding. It was about 15 minutes – you didn’t have to eat pudding but it got you away from the subbing for 15 minutes. He was a great bloke to work with. I won’t be alone in saying we’ll miss him very much.”

Graham Jones, who worked alongside Ian on the Standard’s subs desk, said: “Sad to hear my fellow Scouser has gone. He was a wonderfully funny and, at times, acerbic colleague. I used to love his banter with Jimmy Humphrey.

“Also, I recall his trips around the desk with the little wage slip envelopes. As he handed them to the recipients Ian always invented a middle name to go with the initial on the packet. I became Graham Arbuthnot Jones, loudly proclaimed in his Liverpool accent. His Scouse brogue always tangier than mine despite him having gone to Liverpool’s poshest school, courtesy of his sea captain father. Something I often ribbed him about. But he was a loyal colleague and proud father. Another Fleet Street stalwart has gone. RIP Stocksy.”

Legendary Standard reporter Colin Adamson said: “Ian was one of the most flamboyant and likeable characters on the subs’ bench. Had a huge amount of time for Stocksy. Good man and top wordsmith.”

Another colleague, Robin Britcher said: “His banter with fellow sub Jim Humphrey entertained colleagues for 25 years, and he liked to joke that he was the same age as The Beano. There was never a dull moment when Ian was on the desk and his many escapades made him a legend.  A never-to-be-forgotten colleague.”

Doug Wills, editor emeritus of the Standard, added: “Ian was a great character full of dry wit and strong views. What great times they were with Ian and those subbing stalwarts. A lovely guy.”

Ian Stocks Evening Standard sub

Ian Stocks, former Evening Standard sub-editor. Picture: Amanda Stocks

His passion for the industry filtered through to his home life, with four of his five children, inspired by their visits to the Standard’s Fleet Street offices in their formative years, going on to work for national newspapers and magazines.

Away from work, Ian was heavily involved in youth football in his adopted home of Essex, managing various teams and also refereeing games every weekend across the county for many years. He was also an ardent supporter of Liverpool Football Club all his life.

Ian passed away peacefully at a hospice in Poole surrounded by his family following a short illness. He is survived by his wife Betty and children Elaine, Denise, Adrian, Amanda and Chris.

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