JOURNALISTS are supposed to report the news
not make it, but Alan Jervis, the Chronicle's man in Nantwich, has been
hitting the headlines lately. After nearly half a century in the business, he has
produced his weekly contributions to the paper for the last time. The last Friday in July saw him
retiring after years of keeping Nantwich people informed about local
He logged out of the office computer and went to a presentation
ceremony where colleagues gave him an electric golf trolley. They
also gave him a mock-up of a front page of the Chronicle with the
headline: "Top Dabber Alan Bids Farewell!" These mock-ups are
traditional in journalism for anyone who has put in long service. (I had
one from the Sentinel).
At the presentation, Crewe Editor Dave Fox said (among other tributes):
"Alan has been a true craftsman who embodies all the qualities which
young journalists should aspire to. He gathers the facts, cherishes them
carefully and writes every story accurately, fairly, skilfully, exactly on
its merits and is every editor's dream because he has always done it bang
This latter point is quite an achievement because when he was at work in
the Nantwich office he was the only staff member on duty. The office door
was always open and members of the public could walk in at any time to
interrupt him - hopefully with another news item, but probably not always
The cutting above, left is from the August 3 edition of the Chronicle and shows
Alan with his mock front page and his wife, Margaret, with a bouquet of
flowers she received.
I wrote "nearly half a century", but that is journalese for 48
years in Alan's case. As Dave Fox said, a feat that will probably not be
achieved by another journalist at the Chronicle.
His final work for the Chronicle was coverage of the Nantwich and South
Cheshire Show - the big agricultural event which includes the
International Cheese Show. This appeared in the August 3 issue, along with
a by-lined piece about Himalayan Balasm, a plant introduced to our gardens
in the 19th century but which has now taken over our river banks.
Alan started in journalism on August 17, 1957, the year before I joined the
rival newspaper, The Nantwich Guardian, at 4 Mill Street, but for a
few years our careers overlapped. In 1963, I was invited to move down the
street to No 14 to join The Nantwich Chronicle's team of Alan and Percy
Walker, a journalist who was well respected in the town as the chief of
the Nantwich office.
Unfortunately, Percy was to suffer a fatal heart attack while on a family
holiday and the town and
the newspaper lost a good journalist. This was some years after I had
moved to head office, The Chester Chronicle, in 1968. I later moved to The
Sentinel, from where I took early retirement, but Alan stayed with the
Chronicle throughout his career until last month when, at the age of 65,
he "packed it in", as he would say.
While he covered sport in the Nantwich area, he did not do so exclusively. He could be found reporting on news stories, too. His career
took him to a number of offices in the Chronicle empire, including
Sandbach, Winsford, Middlewich and Crewe.
But sport remained his main hobby. He made his mark in cricket (which
included playing for the school team at Nantwich and Acton Grammar School
- now known as Malbank) and badminton. He played for Cheshire in the
latter sport and has played for the Cheshire veterans for the last 25
years. This is on top of winning the
Crewe and District Badminton League singles event for 11 years out of 12
and the doubles title on 10 occasions with Frank Holland.
On the cricket side, he was an opening batsman for Nantwich Cricket Club
for several years up to 1973.
While Alan was working in the various Chronicle offices, Nantwich was covered from an office in Churchyardside, over
what was then the smaller Stretch and Harlock shop. Eventually, the newspaper was produced from the
current office in Mill Street - No 3a, which is half of what was a
butcher's shop - to where Alan moved about 10 years ago. By then he was South Cheshire Deputy News Editor.
Like all of us in the news industry, he has adapted over the years from
producing his copy (that's what journalists call their reports in its
original form) on a typewriter to using a computer. But he told me a few
months back that he would not be using a computer in his retirement!
Golf, fishing, DIY (mainly on his 300-year-old house in Nantwich) and travelling
will now occupy his time.
One of Alan's two sons, Tim, has been working with his father (and other
Chronicle journalists, of course) for a number of years as one of the
photographic team. His other son, Andy, is in car sales. Alan has been
to Margaret for 41 years.
As I said, journalists are more used to recording the news, but when he attended his
last meeting of Nantwich Town Council to report the debates he was
surprised with a presentation of Stapeley Water Gardens vouchers by the
Chairman, Cllr Jean Pearson. His son, Tim, had not said a word about
the fact that one
of his jobs that evening was a photo of the presentation ceremony. Deputy
Chairman, Steve Hope, thanked Alan for the way he had "reported the
council's business . . . with Nantwich rather than politics in mind,"
adding: "I think we have regarded him as Nantwich's 13th
Alan was invited to a presentation ceremony at Brine Leas High School,
Nantwich, only to find it was to himself. The headmaster, Mr Mike Butler,
gave him a bottle of wine and his thanks for Alan's "co-operation
during his long association with the school." It was one of several
bottles of wine that Alan received in the closing days of his
One of his last articles was a piece in the July 20 issue about Nantwich Show covering his
recollections over the years in a special supplement for the annual
agricultural event on the outskirts of the town.
Good luck in your retirement, Alan. Enjoy it. The first word you have to
learn - yes, even to Margaret! - is "No". As I have found,
people will think you are bored out of your mind now that you do not have
to go to the office every day and will find all manner of tasks for you to do to
fill your time!
Alan was succeeded at Nantwich by staffer Jamie Oliver (no, not the
famous "Naked Chef", but a namesake). [See the Update below.]
picture from The Nantwich Chronicle used with the permission of the
Crewe Editor, Dave Fox.