Margaret says farewell after 46-year newspaper career

A much-loved and respected journalist and local theatre correspondent, whose career has spanned five decades, has retired.
News Editor Margaret Parsons has retired from the Burnley Express.News Editor Margaret Parsons has retired from the Burnley Express.
News Editor Margaret Parsons has retired from the Burnley Express.

Margaret Parsons stepped down as news editor of the Burnley Express, Nelson-Leader series of newspapers and Clitheroe Advertiser and Times at Easter following a newspaper career that started in 1970 and was inspired by reading John Junor’s hard-hitting column in the Sunday Express as a child.

“I’ve interviewed pop stars, film stars and politicians; I’ve followed Royalty around but the best thing has been going out to people’s homes, meeting the real people of Burnley through the good and bad,” she reminisced.

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“I’ve lots of happy memories of long days before computers and mobile phones and had lots of deadlines but I’ve loved it all. I’ve had a great career.”

Born in Sabden, where she still lives, to a farming family, Margaret was the youngest of 10 children. Educated at St Mary’s RC Primary School, Sabden, St Augustine’s RC High School, Billington, and Notre Dame, she was given her first job as a junior reporter at the Express by editor Keith Hall, and spent a year as a trainee on a journalism course at Harris College, Preston. “We had very late deadlines then,” said Margaret. “I used to watch the papers being printed while waiting for the last bus home after night jobs. And, when I passed my driving test at 19, I was known to deliver papers to Sabden newsagents on the way home!”

She went on: “Those early years saw the power cuts, threats of petrol rationing, local government reorganisation, major unrest in industry - 6am strike meetings outside factories - we had to cover them all. Every council meeting was attended and reported; I spent days in court and shared people’s triumphs and tragedies.”

And she added: “I remember interviewing people losing their homes in Padiham Road to make way for the M65. I’ve seen landmarks built and demolished, as well as the town centre being pedestrianised.”

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A mum of three (Kieron, Anne and Ben), Margaret took part-time work at the Advertiser and Times and Express and spent several years in public relations, while raising her family.

She is now a grandmother to four with another grandchild due this summer. She celebrates her ruby wedding anniversary with husband Kieron this summer.

She returned to the Express full-time in 1991, becoming news editor in 1996 and took on added responsibility for the Advertiser and Times and Leader-Times newspapers last year.

Recalling one of her proudest moments, Margaret said: “In 1994 I received a Journalist of the Year Award for hard-hitting news stories on health issues, particularly the Maggie Aikman scandal at Burnley General Hospital.”

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She went on: “I’ve worked with some brilliant journalists over the years and it’s been good to see so many young people we have trained and nurtured go on to great things, reporting and broadcasting all over world.”

Margaret, a Clarets fan, has also been a member of Burnley Mayoress’s Committee and the Soroptimists, She attends St Mary’s Church, edits Good News for Sabden, is secretary of Sabden Christian Council and chairman of New Village Folk panto group.

“I’m going to continue to provide Sabden’s village news for the newspapers and review theatre productions,” said Margaret.

“I think I’m going to be very busy!” she said.

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