• Sun. May 19th, 2024

Tributes to former Oxford Mail editor Eddie Duller

Byoxfordnewspaper

Oct 13, 2022

One of the most successful editors to have been at the helm of Oxford newspapers, Eddie Duller, has died at the age of 86.

Eddie was the Oxford Mail editor from 1985 to 1994. During that time he oversaw a successful sales drive where the paper’s circulation rose by more than 10 per cent to well over 45,000 copies sold daily. That gave a readership of the Mail in the Oxford area of some 100,000 residents.

The campaign for the paper led to the Oxford Mail winning the Newspaper Society’s sales award for newspapers across the country.

Read again: Tribute to former Oxford Mail editor Eddie Duller

The paper also won the national title of Regional Newspaper of the Year in 1992/93.

Photo: Oxford Mail

Eddie himself was recognised for his achievements to newspapers, receiving his OBE from the Prince of Wales (now King Charles III) in March 1994.

During his investiture, he chatted to the Prince about his Highness’s times as a student in Cambridge, where Eddie had been news editor of the Cambridge Evening News.

Born in 1936, Edward Arthur James Duller – always known as Eddie – announced at the age of 12 that he wanted to be a journalist. He achieved this four years later by cycling 10 miles from his home in Somersham, East Anglia, to Huntingdon where he waited three days to see the editor of the local weekly paper. His persistence paid off with the offer of a junior reporter’s job at £1.35p a week.

After 12 months he was called up for national service where his brief journalistic career was put to use as a sergeant in the special branch of the R.A.S.C. His duties involved working underground in the Churchill War Rooms in London, the headquarters of the Suez Command, and with the Army legal services, preparing written briefs for prosecutors and writing for the War Office news agency.

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After national service Eddie returned to the Hunts Post as a senior reporter and then moved to a news agency in Cambridge.

Photo: Oxford Mail

After gaining more experience on local evening and weekly newspapers in Bristol and Bath, he returned to Cambridge in 1963 to become news editor of the Cambridge Evening News at the age of 26.

A few years later he became assistant editor and. concentrating on local news, the paper increased its readership and circulation, from 29,000 to 52,000 copies a night.

When Eddie switched to Westminster Press, his first editorship followed at the Bucks Advertiser, Harrow and Wembley Observer and the Uxbridge Gazette. At each newspaper his editorial policies, combined with re-designs, resulted in increased readerships.

In 1985 he became Editor of the Oxford Mail where he spoke of his pride at launching newspaper campaigns to reduce accidents on the A420 – dubbed ‘The Road to Hell’- promote the introduction of a 50mph speed limit on the A44 and campaigned for heart-start machines to be available in Oxfordshire.

He was a member of the Guild of British Newspaper Editors for many years.

Photo: family of Eddie Duller

When Eddie edited the Oxford Mail, the family lived in Cuxham, near Watlington. He and his wife Vilma later moved to their current home in Summertown.

His deputy at the Oxford Mail for several years, David Wynne-Jones, said: “Eddie was a superb editor, well respected and influential. He was a great inspiration to me in my journalistic career, as well as a good friend. I played golf with him on several local golf courses, and with our wives, we enjoyed many social events.”

Eddie was a member of North Oxford Golf Club for 30 years, leaving in 2016 due to ill health.

After retirement from the Oxford Mail, he became chairman of health watchdog Healthwatch Oxfordshire.

Rosalind Pearce, executive director of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, said: “Eddie was passionate about how we and the health and care authorities communicated with people – plain English was his motto.”

Eddie died on September 28. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Vilma, son Andrew, daughter Jane and two granddaughters, Charlotte and Nathalie.

The funeral is on Thursday, October 20, with a service at North Oxfordshire Crematorium, Tackley (OX5 3ER) at 12 noon, followed by a wake at North Oxford Golf Club, Banbury Road, Oxford (OX2 8EZ). Family flowers only. Donations in memory of Eddie will go to the Tarver Dialysis Unit at the Churchill Hospital.

Obituary written by David Wynne-Jones