Hundreds attend funeral of former Watford Free Observer editor, Charlie Harris

Watford Observer: 'Charlie was my rock' - hundreds attend former editor's funeral 'Charlie was my rock' - hundreds attend former editor's funeral

Mourners shared memories of a "true gentleman" and former newspaper editor at his funeral this morning.

Family, friends and colleagues poured into St Matthews Church, in Hallowell Road, Northwood, to pay tribute to Charlie Harris.

The 60-year-old, of Woodlands, North Harrow, passed away after a short battle with liver and bowel cancer last Saturday.

From the 200 people who came to pay their respects, it was clear the former Newsquest editor was well-loved and valued by all who knew him.

Choking back tears, pallbearers James Bond, Chris Brown, Dominic Cooper and Mike Treacher carried the coffin to the front of the church in solemn silence.

Friend Robin Morgan said: "Charlie used to say, thank God I was not called William Charles. I would have hated being known as WC all my life.

"Early photos I have seen of Charlie show a cherubic little lad, the apple of his mother’s eye, scrubbed up in his whitsun whites ready for a church festival. A picture of innocence."

Charlie went to school at Salvatorian College, in Harrow Weald, and later decided to become a "real" journalist, serving the community in which he lived.

He began his training on the Palmers Green and Southgate Gazette, before becoming the chief reporter at the Enfield Gazette.

In 1989, he joined Times publishers Newsquest, working for the Hendon Times, Borehamwood Times and the Watford Free Observer, before becoming the founding editor of the Harrow Times in 1997.

Mr Morgan, the past president of the Chartered Institute for Journalists, added: "He didn’t always get it right. When he took charge of the Borehamwood Times, he asked staff what ideas they had for a front page.

"Spotting a rape story buried on an inside page, he enthusiastically proposed splashing on it - until someone pointed out it was an oil seed rape crop report."

He went on to describe Charlie as someone who "did not take himself or others too seriously", with "good humour, expert knowledge and a ready source of friendly encouragement and guidance".

When he left Newsquest in 2006, Charlie went on to teach local government at journalism colleges across London.

Charlie was the president of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, where he was affectionately dubbed ‘Young Charlie’.

After the funeral, best friend Balbir Kaur-Sunners told of how she befriended Charlie when she was just 17-years-old and took on a job as the membership secretary of the IOJ.

She said: "Charlie was my rock. A true gentleman, a true friend. We had the greatest friendship.

"I have never come across someone so genuine, so funny, who made everyone laugh. I will miss him every day."

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