Tributes to respected Colne Times and BBC World Service journalist

Warm tributes have been paid to a highly respected East Lancashire journalist whose career took him around the world before ending at the BBC.

By Dominic Collis
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 3:45 pm
Michael Fitzgerald
Michael Fitzgerald

Briercliffe-born Mr Michael Fitzgerald, who died on December 20th, started a long and distinguished media career on his hometown newspaper the Colne Times aged 15, before he moved to the Lancashire Evening Telegraph in Nelson.

Shortly after meeting his future wife Marlene at Nelson's Imperial Ballroom, the couple saw the chance of a lifetime and moved to New Zealand where Michael landed a job at the Northern Times newspaper in Dargaville on the country's North Island.

From there he moved to the Auckland Star before the couple jetted off again, this time to Australia where Michael worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Brisbane.

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The couple married in 1966 and came back to England in 1969 where Michael worked as a sub-editor for the Lancashire Telegraph before a move to London and a coveted role at the BBC Word Service, a post he would remain at for 27 years before retiring in 1997 as a senior duty editor.

Paying tribute to her remarkable husband, Marlene said: "Michael was a quiet, enigmatic man who was always very correct in everything he did. He was very well-respected across the industry which he gave so much service to. He put a lot of hours into the job.

"Away from work he enjoyed reading and when he retired gained two masters degrees in Classics from UCL and the Open University, and then a Masters from the Open University.

"He was also an active member of our local Rotary Club in Chelmsford. Michael will be sadly missed by many people."

Michael eaves sons Michael and Andrew and twin grandchildren Jack and Ellie. He was father to the late Matthew who died two years ago.

Michael was cremated in Colchester on December 31st.