Sunday Mercury's top columnist dies

Sunday Mercury chief feature writer Richard Williamson has died at the age of 56. The award-winning journalist, twice honoured in the Press Gazette Regional Press Awards, suffered a heart attack while visiting his parents. Although he had suffered bouts of ill-health, there was no warning of the coronary complaint that claimed his life.

Williamson, who had worked for the Sunday Mercury for 35 years, was the Birmingham newspaper’s top columnist. His brief also included arts reviews and he had a national reputation for his movie, book and theatre work. He joined the Birmingham Post & Mail as a trainee journalist in 1968, spending six months with the Mercury then another half-year with the Sutton News.

In January 1970 he returned to the Sunday Mercury and in November 1970, after completing his indentures, he was taken on as a reporter and feature writer. He became chief feature writer in 1978 and carved out a reputation for his thoughtful columns, both under his own name and in the guise of Bill Newman’s Diary.

David Brookes, editor of the Sunday Mercury, said: “Dick had a love of the English language like no other journalist I have known and exploited it in every sentence he wrote.

But more than that, he was a genuinely lovely man. Journalism has lost one of its finest writers. Dick’s colleagues and everyone who knew him have lost a true friend.”

More than 80 journalists attended his funeral on Wednesday at Birmingham’s Robin Hood Crematorium.

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