TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved and respected journalist who was renowned for her sense of fun and humour following her sudden death at the age of 72.

The funeral of Bessie Robinson will take place on Friday in her home town of Wolsingham, Weardale, at the same church where she married her husband John 50 years ago to the day.

Friends and family are expected to pack St Mary and St Stephen Church at 11am for the service.

Bessie leaves John, daughters Emma, Laurie and Anna and grandchildren Lily, Pippa, George, Thomas and William.

The congregation will be asked to donate to their own favourite charities in memory of Bessie.

Born in Stanhope to teachers Sidney and Annie Bee, Bessie was educated at Wolsingham School and Enfield College, London, before joining the Durham Advertiser as a junior reporter.

She then moved to the Weardale Advertiser and The Northern Echo where latterly she was chief reporter based in Bishop Auckland.

The Northern Echo: Journalist Bessie Robinson, right, with her friend and colleague Marjorie McIntyreJournalist Bessie Robinson, right, with her friend and colleague Marjorie McIntyre

Her friend for the past 50 years and colleague Marjorie McIntyre, now head of retail at St Teresa’s Hospice, Darlington, said: “Working with Bessie was just the best fun.

"She was clever, talented and just filled your world with laughter. She could be a tough journalist but was always fair and fun.”

Journalist Catherine Priestley, who worked with her for more than a decade, added: “She was the kind of journalist and woman I wanted to be.

"She covered the big issues of the day but with humility and consummate professionalism.

"She was fearless and never afraid to tackle any issue but her stories always benefited people or the region.

“She was an amazing chief reporter and a genuine inspiration to me.

"She taught me to approach big stories in the same way as reporting the golden wedding of someone who had read the Echo all their life.

"Everyone respected her approach to news. She used to tell me amazing stories of being a reporter and it always sounded such fun.

“She was so thoughtful. I remember sitting there at 9pm while she was writing the next day’s splash but she would still find time to help me with my intro.

"Her little black book of contacts was legendary. If you weren’t in it then you weren’t worth talking to.”

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A keen hockey player, Bessie was a member of the local club and for 30 years went on an annual tour, invariably to Scotland – where no hockey was played.

She also travelled around the world with John, a civil engineer.

A talented knitter and seamstress, she and Marjorie ran a design business for three years based at Brancepeth Castle, selling into the likes of Harrods and Liberty’s, London.

Marjorie said: “We imported silk and mohair from Paris and Bessie was amazing.

"She made her own wedding dress and all the bridesmaids’ dresses too.

"I’m not sure how successful we were at making money but it was a lot of fun.

"She had such a distinctive laugh and my over-riding memories are that we had an absolutely hilarious time.

"I still can’t believe that she has gone.”


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