For me, one of the great highlights of my very brief period in the Diocese was the opportunity to guest-edit The Northern Echo. Even to be allowed to sit in the Editor’s chair felt a touch presumptuous! Nonetheless, despite the fact that he must have known he was taking a significant risk, he stepped back and took his hands off the wheel to allow to me to have some fun, and to pitch one day’s edition in a particular direction. It was typical of his passion, of his community involvement, of his generosity of spirit, and of his good humour, that it all worked so well.
When I think of newspaper editors of regional papers, he is the face that comes to mind. He will be deeply missed by The Northern Echo, but the history of the paper is such that one can be confident in its future editors as much as in its past".
Steve Cram and Allison Curbishley
"It's difficult to put into a few lines the impact Peter has had on the North-East sporting community, from grass roots right up to elite performers.
It was no coincidence that one of the first things he did in his role as Editor of The Northern Echo was to create the Local Heroes Awards, showcasing the most amazing regional sporting talents both on and off the sports field.
Seventeen years on, the awards are still a must in our diary and they continue to be supported by many famous faces from the world of sport hailing from our proud region. Much of that support is because of Peter and his passion to make sure than untold stories and unsung heroes are given a platform to shine. He’ll be hugely missed by everyone who has enjoyed his work, commitment and passion on making The Northern Echo, and subsequently the Local Heroes Awards, something we can all be proud of in the North-East.
Enjoy the next chapter Peter, thank you for being a true ambassador for North-East sport".
Sir Bob Murray
"Peter Barron is great example of his profession. He is highly respected by his peers and those that have had the pleasure to work with him.
In the last 30 years or so I’ve worked with many people in the media and in that time Peter has always stood out to me as one of those quality people with great professional ethics, standards and integrity and I respect him enormously.
He is very intelligent, approachable and trustworthy and the sort of person that makes you feel at ease when you talk to them.
I think he will a huge loss to The Northern Echo but I am sure he will continue to make a great contribution in whatever he chooses to do next".
James Ramsbotham, CEO, North East Chamber of Commerce
"I am extremely proud to have known and worked with Peter Barron over many years. His support for local issues is phenomenal and his influence across the whole region has been immense.
Always innovative, he has championed so many causes on behalf of the people and our business community and he is a role model with regards to professional journalism.
In the same way that he has honoured so many, especially our veterans in recent years, we are right to honour him and thank him for all he has done with so much humour and so selflessly on our behalf".
David Kelly, former-Managing Director, The Northern Echo
"Peter will go down in the Echo’s history as one of its exceptional editors".
Pam Royle, presenter, ITV / Tyne Tees Television
"We have been very lucky to have Peter at the helm for so many years.
He has been a marvellous Editor of The Northern Echo who cares passionately about the region and its people.
What has made him so important is that he has not just worked incredibly hard editing the newspaper but he has also been heavily involved in the community – giving his time to groups, organisations and charities who have benefited hugely from Peter’s energy and enthusiasm.
He has been so much a part of the region we will miss him enormously".
Lyndon Longhorne, Local Heroes Awards winner & Paralympics hopeful:
"I would not be where I am today without the help and support of Peter Barron. He has been brilliant for me and I cannot thank him enough for everything he has done. Whenever I have called him up he has always been there for me with help and advice, or put a piece in the paper to help publicise something I was involved in.
He is not one of those people who just sits in his office and is hard to get in touch with – he has always been there helping people in the local community. Peter has been a brilliant Editor for The Northern Echo and what he has done for grassroots sport in the North-East through the Local Heroes Awards is massive. He is a lovely fella as well and I just wanted to say thanks Peter for always believing in me".
Alasdair MacConachie, Chairman, Darlington Partnership
"Peter has been an inspirational friend. Some of the really effective contributions he has made are: Leading the Chance to Live campaign, which successfully changed government policy on heart bypass waiting times (inspired by the death of his friend Ian Weir, the Echo’s chief photographer). Being named President of Darlington Operatic Society and acting as deputy editor to the Chuckle Brothers when they guest edited the Echo.
Peter has been recognised by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham for the many and varied contributions he has made within the region and has been appointed a Deputy lieutenant (DL). He was awarded the MBE as a recognition for all that he has done. His family are wonderful particularly his dear wife Heather and his children, Chris, Hannah, Jack and Max.
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David Coates, Managing Director of Newsquest North
"During Peter’s tenure as editor of The Northern Echo, he has built up a reputation for excellence in local journalism and for championing the North-East region and its communities. Under his editorship, The Northern Echo has been at the heart of a series of successful campaigns, maintaining the paper’s national reputation for getting things done".
Mark Robinson, former reporter now Creative Director, Shiver TV
"Pete was a proper ‘man manager’ way ahead of his time in an era when other news editors elsewhere were spending half the day in the pub and throwing typewriters out of windows. Management didn’t go on too many training courses in those days, but Pete didn’t need them – he had natural ‘emotional intelligence’ long before we ever heard the term and knew how to get the best out of his team. He led by example, treated everyone equally and had a big influence on me. He also sent me out to get some ‘dry water’ on my first day... I’m still looking".
Henry Faure Walker, Chief Executive, Newsquest
"I only joined Newsquest in the latter stages of Peter’s career as Editor of the Northern Echo, but it was immediately apparent that we had in our midst one of the real heavyweights of regional journalism.
I’m grateful for the astute way in which he has led The Northern Echo, but also his contribution to Newsquest as a whole, not least through his deft Chairmanship of the Editorial Development Group. The Northern Echo is now a multi-media powerhouse and Peter deserves much credit for building the brand on-line while sustaining a substantial print audience.
More people read The Northern Echo today than at any time in the last decade and he’s established a platform from which his successor can take a great deal of confidence. I’m delighted the he will continue his long association with the newspaper as a writer and community ambassador. I wish him all the best for the future".
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A heartfelt thanks to everyone on this page for such kind words
Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby
"One of the first people I met when I became Bishop of Durham was Peter Barron. Obviously, I had heard of The Northern Echo, as one of the greatest of the regional newspapers in the United Kingdom. I was fascinated to meet the current editor, the successor of many giants.
Peter was a critical friend, a support and an invaluable advisor from the moment I met him. He did all that without once compromising his independence or his willingness to criticise in the pages of the newspaper. But despite not having had long enough to get to know him well, he was someone who was full of generosity in opening possibilities for me to contribute more widely in the society of the Diocese of Durham, from the Tees to the Tyne.
Peter is someone of enormous humanity. Editing is not merely a job, it is something he carries out with huge passion and profound commitment to his readers, to their interests and to the future of the region. He has made a very significant contribution over his time as Editor.
We at Sherwoods are a successful business due in no small way to the partnership with Newsquest and Northern Echo in particular. As a staunch Rotarian, I should like to thank Peter for the tremendous support he has given the Rotary Club in Darlington".
Kathryn Singleton, Head of Sales and Marketing for Bisca
Said of a feature about BISCA staircases: “Richard McLane (the owner) was impressed with it and said it is very well written – consider it well done because he does not usually pass comment!”
Steve Chaytor, Chief Executive, Tees Active
“Peter delivered an excellent overview of working with the media in the modern age, covering issues from press coverage to use of social media. He has a unique insight as an award winning newspaper editor but also as someone who has contributed to the community in many other ways. This enables him to approach his subject with an appreciation of the viewpoint of his clients and their need to see the media as an asset to their business.
The Tees Active staff who attended the day thoroughly enjoyed the experience and all came away both better informed and more thoughtful about how the media relates to our business.
We wouldn’t hesitate to work with Peter Barron Media again.”
Sir Bob Murray
Ada Burns, Chief Executive, Darlington Borough Council
"Peter was a great campaigning editor, championing community causes and at the same time giving voice to the region on the impacts of austerity on public services. He engaged with the big issues and his comment was always thoughtful and distinct".
Peter Sands, former Editor, The Northern Echo
"What an amazing achievement Peter. You were a great news-editor, a real ideas man, and an even better editor. You rode the tiger (which could be vicious at times) with dexterity and kept your trademark sense of humour intact. Well done … up there with Evans and Stead. Good luck for the next stage".
Ted Young, Editor, Metro
"I started as an Echo reporter in September 1986 and was given the typewriter next to Pete. Despite clearly thinking I was a southern softie, he took me under his wing and introduced me to the North-East. As chief reporter, he always had an eye for a story. A great journalist and friend".
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Allan Prosser, Editor 1982 - 1989, The Northern Echo
"1984, as Orwell warned, did not have much going for it. The Miners’ Strike started; Ronald Reagan won a crushing victory to return to the White House; the IRA came within minutes of assassinating a British Prime Minister; famine ravaged Ethiopia. Peter Barron walked into my office in that iconic year as a diffident young man with Byronic good looks, essential local knowledge, an engaging sense of humour, and — that prerequisite for advancement — the human touch.
At a difficult time of transition for the newspaper he was exactly what we were seeking . . . a reporter who was energetic, sensible, unstuffy, forward-thinking and who cared about his community.
All those qualities have served him well in a glorious career which cannot be encapsulated in a few brief paragraphs. He sensibly abandoned his ambition to be a racing tipster (I still remember the howls of outrage of “Where’s Barron” echoing around the Echo newsroom after everyone lumped onto one of his “cert” Grand National selections).
He turned instead into a truly great Editor who mastered all the modern challenges — corporate, economic and technological, to maintain the influence and reach of his newspaper and the loyalty of his staff. Orwell wrote: “If you loved someone, you loved him, and when you had nothing else to give, you still gave him love.”
That’s what Peter Barron has offered his readers and his region for more than three decades. It is a wonderful achievement. And it is to be hugely admired".
Colin Tapping, Editor, Hexham Courant, former Deputy Editor, The Northern Echo
"Pete is without question the finest journalist I’ve worked alongside. He has an incisive mind, full of offbeat (sometimes crazy) ideas, with an indomitable zeal to see them through to fruition.
He is a wonderful campaigning editor, with the knack of launching a campaign that he knew he can win. But crucially, he backs campaigns with the benefit of ordinary, everyday people at their core ... whether it be heart surgery waiting lists, compensation for miners, or families seeking justice. He also has courage, which few can match.
I will never forget his insistence, against my judgement, on the night of the first Mayoral election, right on deadline, to go with the headline ‘Monkey is Mayor’. The result hadn’t been declared, but Pete thought it worth the risk to have the standout headline the next morning. As so often was the case, I was wrong and he was right".
Dave Horsley, Head of Production, The Northern Echo
"Being a good editor is knowing your readership and, as best as you can, giving them what they want. Being a great editor is knowing your staff and bringing the best out in them to produce a quality newspaper that is informative, but also purposeful and meaningful.
I once thought I could be one (but quickly got wise), I’ve experienced quite a few (some pretty good), but now I can say I worked for the best of them for 17 years".
Graham Leggatt-Chidgey, Chief Executive, Butterwick Hospice Care
"Peter Barron’s support and personal contribution to the creation and sustaining of Butterwick House Children’s Hospice, over nearly two decades, has been considerable. His hard work has directly benefited hundreds of local babies and children suffering a life limiting illness.
In 1997, following the death of the Princess of Wales, he successfully rallied the Echo’s readership to get behind our capital appeal to build the region’s first Children’s Hospice and since then has generously donated his speaking fees to help fund operating costs.
Fantastically, our records show that Peter has managed to personally generate some £25,000 in this way from over 250 speaking engagements. We are delighted that Peter is a formal Hospice Ambassador and will continue in this role in the next stage of his career – in which everybody at the Butterwick wishes him great success".