Tributes paid to former Watford Free Observer deputy editor Charlie Harris

Watford Observer: 'He was a one off' - tributes paid to former newspaper editor 'He was a one off' - tributes paid to former newspaper editor

Tributes have been paid to a dedicated former journalist who was a former Deputy Editor of the Watford Free Observer.

Charlie Harris, of Woodlands, North Harrow, died in St Luke's Hospice, in Kenton Grange, on Saturday night after battling liver and bowel cancer for just three weeks.

The 60-year-old was the first editor of the Harrow Times when it was launched in 1997, and the passion he showed for the job continues to inspire his former colleagues to this day.

He joined the Times owners Newsquest in March 1989 and left in December 2006, and during his time at the company he worked on the Hendon Times, the Borehamwood Times and the Watford Free Observer.

Former Borehamwood Times editor Rod Brewster said: “He was a lovely man, great to work with and a wonderful colleague. He will be sorely missed.”

Odette Forbes, who also worked with Charlie, said: “Charlie was old school, obsessed about punctuation and grammar and always fighting for the underdog.

“He had a great instinct for a news story and was a fantastic mentor.”

Others have described him as an easy-going journalist of "great integrity”, who was also full of wit and wisdom.

Charlie will be remembered for his upbeat attitude - even as he neared the end of his life, friends described him as being “chirpy”.

In early 1997, eager young journalist James Bond contacted Charlie to ask for a job, and after he signed a freelance contract, the pair became best friends.

Mr Bond said: “Charlie was a people person. He had time to nurture trainee journalists, he really believed in them. He inspired hundreds of people to never give up.

“He was caring, bright and funny. Someone who was easy going. He had a wicked sense of humour and was always cracking jokes.

“He was a one off. We formed such a strong friendship in those 17 years. He took a chance on me, I am his legacy. I owe him everything.”

Charlie could drink both tea and Guinness “by the gallon” and was never without a copy of his favourite magazine, Private Eye.

He was also the president of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, which has described him as “one of the greatest journalists the industry has ever known”.

But his real passion lay in politics and he eventually took on a job teaching local government on a journalism course at colleges across London.

Former students remember him as an “energetic” man who was never without a smile on his face.

Rachael Burnett said: “He really helped me get to where I am today. He had a warm heart and always do all he could to help you out if you were struggling.

“His death is a great loss to the world of journalism.”

Funeral arrangements will be announced this week.

To pay tribute to Charlie, post a comment below.

Comments (1)

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2:07pm Thu 9 Jan 14

SimonRicketts says...

I was saddened to hear of Charlie's passing. He was a kind and friendly man who helped me enormously when I started my career in Watford. He was passionate about journalism and committed to journalists. He will be sadly missed. My condolences to his family.
I was saddened to hear of Charlie's passing. He was a kind and friendly man who helped me enormously when I started my career in Watford. He was passionate about journalism and committed to journalists. He will be sadly missed. My condolences to his family. SimonRicketts

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