Page 16, 18th March 1988

18th March 1988
Page 16
Page 16, 18th March 1988 — Casting his mind back not quite 100 years, the Catholic

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Casting his mind back not quite 100 years, the Catholic

Herald's current managing director, Otto Herschan, concludes this centenary supplement by paying tribute to the stars and unsung heroes of the paper.

Independent in every sense

G K Chesterton said: "There is only one paper I know in England which gives you some sort of idea of what Europe is like and that is the Catholic Herald."

Although I did not have the fortune to have worked at the Catholic Herald at the time when Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc and Eric Gill graced its pages with their contributions, my excuse for these personal reflections is nevertheless longevity. I have worked at the Catholic Herald for more than one third of its century. To the younger readers it must sound like a lifetime but it is by no means a work record at the Catholic Herald since happily Miss Doris Mahoney, my now retired secretary, will be celebrating our centenary with us. It would be ungallant to say more than that the fraction of the century in which she loyally served the Catholic Herald is considerably more than mine.

However, her record is totally eclipsed by that of John Fielding who became a director of the Catholic Herald in 1936. He died in August 1969 aged 90. He had joined the Catholic Herald 75 years earlier at the age of 15 for the princely salary of five shillings a week, that was six years after the paper's foundation.

These are personal reflections so I must be satisfied with a link through John Fielding to within six years of the foundation of the paper. Terence Sheehy, the present editor, elsewhere in this issue writes about Charles Diamond, the founder.

With the death of Charles Diamond in 1934, the Catholic Herald underwent a radical and almost total change but there were at least two links with the old Catholic Herald. Terence Sheehy mentioned that Fr C C

Martindale was at the deathbed of Diamond and he was still writing a weekly scripture commentary in the 1950s.

The second link, Mollie Bottrill who had been secretary to Charles Diamond and was later to marry the new proprietor of the Catholic Herald, Ernest Vernor Miles; she was to become a very efficient managing director of the Catholic Herald until I succeeded her in 1960. It was she who trained me in the skills of newspaper management.

Ernest Vernor Miles, a lawyer, had only recently become a Catholic when Charles Diamond died. The Dominicans who had received him into the Church encouraged him to buy the Catholic Herald. Vernor soon appointed Michael de la Bedoyere as editor of his newly acquired paper. I do not detract from the brilliant editorship of Michael de la Bedoyere when I say that not only did Vernor appoint him as editor, but Vernor was the perfect chairman of a newspaper who helped Michael to evolve the Catholic Herald's policy. Vernor did not necessarily agree with the points of view expressed by his paper, but within reason allowed the editor the freedom to express his ideas.

Vernor relinquished the proprietorship of the Catholic Herald in 1966, although he remained a director until his death on Christmas Day 1974.

Before writing of Michael de la Bedoyere's editorship, I must also mention the Countess of Kinnoull, a friend of the Miles family, who had participated in the original investment in the Catholic Herald and was a director of the company until 1966. Lady Kinnoull was a talented painter, a writer, and she, like Venor, was a convert to the Church, whose generosity in Catholic circles was very considerable. However, she was greatly disappointed in the changes brought about by Vatican II, for many of which the Catholic Herald had campaigned. It resulted in her supporting Archbishop Lefebvre from Carmel California where she had settled and died in 1985.

Apart from the length of his editorship 1934-1962 Michael de la Bedoyere's contribution was unquestionably the most important in the history of the paper.

In other articles in this issue reference has already been made to courageous and far-seeing leaders on Ireland, unconditional surrender, Russia joining the Allied War Cause, Hiroschima and the Atomic Bomb, and much more.

What is more difficult to appreciate today, because either we forget so quickly or because it was before our time, was the climate in which Michael had to operate. It seems hardly credible in 1988 that Catholics were not allowed to attend Protestant services, even when it was merely the blessing of a new mayor. Michael realised that as editor of a Catholic newspaper and especially one that was to a very great extent sold in churches, he could not sail too close to the wind without capsizing. So on some occasions he used clever subterfuge to achieve his objectives, as for example in the case of attending church services in non-Catholic churches on official occasions. Realising in the 1950s this would cause a furore he invited Sir David Kelly, the then Catholic Head of the Foreign Office, to write on the subject, knowing that at least no bishop would risk a confrontation with such an eminent public figure.

JOHN RYAN, (left) has been contributing a weekly cartoon to the Catholic Herald since 1963. John, the youngest son of diplomat Sir Andrew Ryan, made his mark as a cartoonist in 1950 when Captain Pugwash sailed into the pages of the Eagle magazine, to be followed by Harris Tweed and Lettice Leefe for Girl magazine. The ideas were later taken up by television, and other creations followed in Pugwash's pioneering footsteps — Mary, Mungo and Midge and Sir Prancelot.

Cardinal Grotti, a direct descendant of the Captain, appeared soon after John Ryan joined the Herald, and has been at the centre of Vatican affairs ever since. After a lifetime in London, John and his wife Priscilla have moved to Rye in Sussex, with his studio overlooking Romney Marsh. Captain Pugwash, he feels, is not far away.

Douglas Hyde elsewhere in this issue writes of his association with Michael and his own work at the Catholic Herald added to its authority. At the same time Andrew Boyle was a member of the Catholic Herald's editorial team. He was later to have a very distinguished career with the BBC and became an eminent biographer. Daniel Counihan, who was also at the Catholic Herald at this time, subsequently held many important posts in the BBC; he returned to the Catholic Herald for a brief period as editor.

To those of us who remain at the Catholic Herald and in this context I will later pay tribute to Sir Harold Hood, it is very gratifying to see so many of those who worked at the Catholic Herald now occupying important (and more lucrative) positions in the secular media. Frances Gumley who joined the Catholic Herald shortly after her graduation and was editor for two years, became RC adviser to the Head of Religious Broadcasting BBC, and is now also a senior producer of Religious Broadcasting. Jonathan Petre, who was a member of the editorial team in the 1980s, is now religious affairs correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. Richard Dowden, another editor of the Catholic Herald who later joined The Times, is now African Affairs editor of The Independent. Desmond Fisher succeeded Michael de la Bedoyere and was editor of the Catholic Herald during the second Vatican Council, his reports from Rome during the sessions of the Council were acknowledged to be some of the best in the English language. He became News Editor of Radio Telefis Eireann in Dublin.

There are many names I ought to mention but, alas, space is limited. Last, but certainly not least, is Desmond Albrow who occupied the editorial chair for five years after Desmond Fisher. He was the most professional editor with whom I worked. We enjoyed a particularly close relationship. Desmond came to us from the Sunday Telegraph and ultimately returned to the Sunday Telegraph as Features Editor. We are indebted to him for an excellent article in the Sunday Telegraph recently on the Catholic Herald's 100 years.

If I were to recall all the names of illustrious writers in our paper I would need a whole column merely to list them. Some I can't ignore. Lord St John of Fawsley, or as he was then Norman St John Stevas, wrote a weekly column for many years before he became a member of the government and later Leader of the House of Commons. Kevin McNamara MP, presently the Opposition Spokesman on Northern Ireland, was also a weekly columnist. John Ryan began his weekly cartoons during Vatican H some 25 years ago. In the 1960s Paul Johnson alternated a fortnightly column with the late Douglas Brown of the Telegraph. Auberon Waugh's first signed column appeared in the Catholic Herald.

Sir Gordon Reece, under a pseudonym which I do not readily recall, was our television critic. For more than a decade the late Eamonn Andrews entertained and stimulated readers with his weekly column, but he was much more than a contributor, he had been a personal friend and advisor for more than 30 years.

Shortly after Eamonn's untimely death, Freda Bruce Lockhart, who had been our film critic for more than 20 years, also died. Readers will also recall the fascinating weekly contributions over many years of Patrick O'Donovan in Charterhouse Chronicle which, after Patrick's death in January 1982, was taken over by the Hon Gerard Noel who originated the column at the end of that year.

He had become a director of the company in March 1974 and because of his weekly writings in the Catholic Herald will be the best known director amongst our readers. He has been editor on more than one occasion.

Oh for lots more space to write about Malcolm Muggeridge, Morris West, Paul Jennings, Paul Gallico, Lord Longford, Harry Keating an erstwhile literary editor, and Sir Desmond Morton, who was Sir Winston Churchill's Personal Assistant before and during the War. He reviewed so many books for us. Yet one more, Delia Smith, whose new book we are anticipating with great pleasure.

The directors of the Catholic Herald since 1934 have stayed Out of the limelight but without them the company which publishes the Catholic Herald would not exist. When Sir Harold Hood left The Universe in 1960, we invited him to become a director of the Catholic Herald; he and I are the only members of the present board dating back to the chairmanship of Vernor Miles. Sir Harold has now been a director for nearly 30 years and has devoted all his energies to making the Catholic Herald successful, his day to day unstinting work and advice are without equal.

When Vernor Miles relinquished the proprietorship in 1966 and Merritt & Hatcher became major shareholders, David Edgley became chairman and remains so today, although Merritt & Hatcher, succeeded by Westminster Press, gave up control in 1980. The equity of the company was then redistributed and the present shareholders are Sir Harold Hood, Dr Patrick McGrath, the Hon Rocco Forte, myself, and our families.

Before the shares were redistributed, Paddy McGrath had become a director in 1978. He is one of the leading business men in Ireland, to name but three of his many associations, the famous Irish Hospital Sweeps Stake, his racing interests in Goff's bloodstock, and he was until recently Chairman of Waterford Glass.

The Hon Rocco Forte, who today is the Chief Executive of Trusthouse Forte, became a director in 1980. The last person to join the present Board of Directors was Sir Allan Davis, GBE, DSc.CA, whose distinguished career culminated in his becoming Lord Mayor of the City of London in 1985.

Finally, before a reader draws our attention ot it, I must refer to the serial number of this issue, which is 5312. It ought to be something like 5201. We know that the first London edition serial number 1 was published on the March 16 1888; we have a copy of it. However, the serial number on the September 5 1925 was 1643 and ought to have been about 1950! We have not yet discovered where the errors occurred, at least it shows we are not infallible!

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