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Tributes to former KM managing editor Norman Smith


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Tributes have been paid to a widely respected senior journalist, whose association with the KM Group stretches back more than 50 years.

Father-of-seven Norman Smith, who lived in Woodchurch, near Tenterden, died on Christmas Day at the age of 83 following a long illness.

Norman Smith, pictured here in 1994, became the KM Group's managing editor and the company's legal adviser after his retirement in 2000
Norman Smith, pictured here in 1994, became the KM Group's managing editor and the company's legal adviser after his retirement in 2000

Norman started with the KM in 1968 and held a number of roles, including picture editor, production editor and features editor of the company's daily newspaper, the Evening Post.

He developed the expansion of the free Extras titles and worked his way up to become the company's managing editor.

When he retired from that role in July 2000, he became the KM Group's legal consultant, a role he continued until his death.

Norman originally trained as a maths teacher but later decided to become a journalist, starting his career in his native Scotland before moving to the Coventry Evening Telegraph and then to Kent.

KM editorial director Ian Carter said: "Norman may have retired from the KM before I joined, but he remained a very influential presence as our legal advisor.

"It was an enormous benefit both to me personally and the wider group that we could draw on Norman's vast experience and legal contacts.

"He was calm in a crisis, an invaluable sounding board and somebody who still cared passionately about the company and its standards. I will miss him enormously."

Former KM managing director and chief executive David Lewis said: "By the time I arrived, Norman had been with the KM for some considerable time but you couldn't wish to meet a more thorough professional.

"His vast experience was invaluable to me as an individual but to the KM group as a whole. "There wasn't much about the industry he didn't know about and he was a very useful sounding board."

Away from work, Norman's passions were dogs, fly-fishing, cricket, holidays in France and his home country, Scotland.

Norman Smith at the time he moved to Kent and joined the company in October 1968
Norman Smith at the time he moved to Kent and joined the company in October 1968

Friends say Norman enjoyed a glass of scotch and was a passionate fly-fisherman. He was a personal friend of the fishing expert and author, Charles Jardine.

He loved France and its wines and fine food, writing regularly about the country.

Recalling one story which illustrated his calm approach to life, Norman's wife Ann said: "When in France on a family holiday, we had a small accident, a bump in the rear of the car from a French van. The Frenchman jumped out of his van and started to give Norman tyrannical abuse full of French passion.

"Norman, being Norman, let him carry on but when he had finished Norman, in a calm, measured voice spoke in perfect fluent French told the gentleman exactly what he thought! Aghast, the Frenchman promptly got back into his van and drove away. When Norman got back to the car, we were both clapping and celebrating our small foreign victory!"

Norman Smith in 1979: He held a number of roles at the KM
Norman Smith in 1979: He held a number of roles at the KM

Former P&O Ferries director of communications and former KM colleague, Chris Laming said: “When I was a junior at the KM, Norman’s reputation in the company was god-like. But when I moved into the ferry industry, Norman became a close personal friend.

“He was a travel writer for the KM and accompanied me on press trips into deepest France. He was always keen to learn more about places like Champagne and Burgundy as well as the Nord Pas De Calais region. It was plain that he loved the country, its food, the culture and became a real Francophile.

“He was good company and life and soul of the trips. He had many good friends in journalism and outside of journalism. He’ll be missed for sure.”

Norman Smith is survived by his wife Ann, seven children, 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

His funeral will take place at Charing Crematorium at 10.45am on Tuesday, January 25 - the same date as Burns Night. Details from T.W. Fuggle & Son of Ashford Road, Tenterden.

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