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December 21, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:53am

Mary MacKenzie – reporter, political PR and mother of journalists Kelvin, Craig and Drew – dies aged 92

By Kelvin MacKenzie

Mary MacKenzie, a journalist and political PR and the mother to journalists Kelvin, Craig and Drew, has died aged 92.

Her long life was never easy. Born in Ealing, West London, she was adopted as a child and moved around the country before settling in Ramsgate. Mary left school with no qualifications but her drive and energy  (and a good dollop of glamour) landed her a junior reporter job on the local paper in Thanet, Kent.

It was there she met fellow local paper reporter Ian MacKenzie (just back from the war)  at an amdram production of The Mikado.

They married almost at once and moved to London where Ian became the editor of the South London Observer and Mary became the ‘important-story-getter’. To supplement their modest local newspaper pay they freelanced as the agency MacKenzie of Dulwich.

In the pre-internet (and fax) age each story had to be read over the phone to a national newspaper copytaker. As this was a family affair her eldest son Kelvin was roped in to do the reading although he was only nine-years-old.

On the council estate in Camberwell, South London,  the MacKenzies became the first family to have a television set as  Mary won a competition in one of the three London evening papers with an essay on the future of radio. Kelvin would go on to help found national UK station TalkSport.

Mary went on to switch from news to politics, working as PR for the Conservatives and dealing with big beasts like Magaret Thatcher (who she loved) and  Michael Heseltine (who she couldn’t stand).

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There was a successful spell doing housing communications for the then Greater London Council and as personal PR to leader Horace Cutler.

For a short while she was head of PR for Hampshire County Council but her workaholic nature took its toll and she stood down for health reasons.

She never lost her political instincts, arranging for Kelvin to take her to the local betting shop near where she lived in Weybridge, Surrey, to back both Brexit and Boris ( to win both the Tory leadership and the last UK general election) for £50 a time.

Her sons all followed their mother into journalism. Kelvin edited The Sun, Craig had executive positions in Fleet Street and Drew ran his own news agency in New York where he has lived for 40 years.

She died at the Princess Alice Hospice in Esher, Surrey. The funeral is set for January 4. She leaves her long term partner Tim, ten grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

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