Former Exmouth journalist Elvin John Derrick dies
PUBLISHED: 12:05 04 April 2014
Former Exmouth Chronicle reporter Elvin John Derrick, who went on to become the youngest TV news editor in Britain, but was famously banned from football matches because the team lost every game he reported on, has died at home in Norfolk, aged 75.
From the age of nine Elvin wanted to be a journalist; he wrote and illustrated a school magazine for his Withycombe Raleigh primary school.
The careers advisor at Exmouth Grammar School suggested he should become a language teacher but his dream came true in 1954 when he joined the Exmouth Chronicle as a junior reporter, aged just sixteen.
He loved cycling around Exmouth, Lympstone, Budleigh Salterton and every village in between, meeting extraordinary characters and covering all manner of events.
On one occasion, while interviewing an elderly couple, he fell through the floorboards of their house.
His wife Patricia said: “They were delighted because it meant they could finally get their errant landlord to do some much-needed repairs! Luckily he wasn’t hurt.”
He was once banned by a local football team on the grounds that they lost every game he reported on.
Howver, editor Bill King insisted matches must be covered, and Elvin wrote a witty piece about having to watch the game through a hole in the hedge, unable to see either end of the football pitch.
As a young man Elvin loved swimming and water polo; he was well known in Exmouth for his comedy diving routines – he would don old-fashioned women’s bloomers and “parachute” off the diving board into the pool.
He was a member of the model aircraft club and spent many hours flying on Woodbury Common.
Seven years on the Chronicle was followed by a brief spell with the Express & Echo in Exeter, then he was invited to join Westward Television in Plymouth.
He was appointed news editor of the magazine programme Westward Diary in 1962. At the time, aged 24, he was the youngest television news editor in Britain.
He covered many of the major Westcountry maritime events of the ’60s: notably Sir Francis Chichester’s solo round-the-world voyage, and the tragic story of yachtsman Donald Crowhurst. His coverage of the Torrey Canyon oil tanker disaster so impressed ITN that they twice offered him jobs in London. He turned them down in favour of moving to Norwich in 1973 as news editor of Anglia Television where he remained until retirement.
Patricia said: “Retirement enabled Elvin to return to a hobby that had begun in Exmouth.
“As a boy he cycled the streets of his home town looking for houses with a cactus in the window – he would knock on the door and beg a cutting, very rarely meeting with refusal.
“He amassed a sizeable collection, only to lose the lot one hard winter as his parents could not afford a heated greenhouse.”
He was chairman of the South Norfolk Cactus & Succulent Society for seven years, winning many awards with his prizewinning specimens.
He leaves a widow, Patricia, a son Eden, daughter Hannah and grandson Edward.
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