'A lovely gentleman' - tributes to Hartlepool Mail legend Richard 'Dickie' Jacques after his death aged 91

Richard Jacques, the popular and former long-serving chief sub-editor of the Hartlepool Mail, has died aged 91.

By Newsroom
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 12:10 pm

Richard – Dickie to friends and family – was born on February 15, 1930.

His parents, Forbes and Ethel, of Stratford Road, ran a bakery in Murray Street and his aunts had a general store and cafe.

His uncle Freddie was a mayor of Hartlepool and his aunt Nancy Snowdon was a headmistress in the town.

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Hartlepool Mail legend Richard 'Dickie' Jacques, who has died at the age of 91.

After school and a Second World War evacuation to a North Yorks farm, Dickie became a compositors’ apprentice on the Northern Daily Mail, the town’s paper before it became the Hartlepool Mail in 1959.

Always good with words, he started sub-editing and, after a time as sport editor, became chief sub-editor.

It was a perfect job for his precise, inquiring mind.

Former Mail editor Andrew Smith called him a “lovely, quietly spoken gentleman who was a pleasure to work with, a meticulous sub-editor and terrific asset in the newsroom”.

Dickie and Jean Jacques.

Mr Smith added: “As a newcomer to Hartlepool, I often turned to him for his local knowledge and sound evaluation of stories.”

At the Mail Dickie met the love of his life, Jean Roberton, who wrote the paper’s woman’s page under the byline Winifred West.

They married in June 1964 and moved to The Crescent, where they lived for the rest of their lives.

They had two daughters, Jan, who became a journalist on national newspapers in London, and Judith, who settled in Bath after her degree at the city’s university.

Former Hartlepool Mail editor Andrew Smith has paid tribute to Dickie Jacques.

Dickie’s other great love was sport. He boxed, played rugby, and well into his 40s spent summers cricketing at Park Drive.

Key to his move from the compositors room had been his interest in horse racing and his proficiency at subbing the race cards for the Mail.

For years, he and a colleague would provide bets of the day for the paper.

He was an authority on boxing, especially up-and-coming local fighters, who he wrote about in his spare time for the Mail.

He followed the Fighting Feeney brothers, John and George, and Brian London, the West Hartlepool lad who fought Floyd Patterson and Muhammad Ali for world heavyweight titles.

Dickie was also a devotee of the green baize, playing snooker and his much-preferred billiards at the Athenaeum Club, in Church Street.

Dickie was always modest, with a warm, open expression, a strong head of immaculately slicked-back hair and an easy, friendly smile.

He was unfailingly polite although never shied away from sharing a contrary view.

He helped leave a journalistic legacy – he was among the group that set up The Tom Cordner Awards for trainees, which grew into the North East Press Awards, still known as "The Cordners”.

Dickie dealt stoically with advancing age, recovering well from a stroke at Christmas 2013.

He lost Jean in 2016 and spent his last 20 months at Westview Lodge care home.

He died on December 8 and his funeral was at St Joseph’s Church on January 12 followed by interment at Stranton Cemetery.

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