Pat Swift

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PAT Swift, who was the first woman editor of a local newspaper in West Yorkshire, has died after a long illness.

She edited the sister newspapers of the Todmorden News and Hebden Bridge Times from 1987 until 1995, spending nearly 20 years of her working life on them having first been a reporter and feature writer before taking the editor’s chair.

Mrs Swift, who was in her 60s, began her journalism career on the Dewsbury Reporter, then went to the Accrington Observer before moving back to Yorkshire in 1965 on joining the Halifax Courier where her husband Ian later worked as a photographer.

After taking a break in 1969 to bring up their two children she worked part time in the 1970s on the Brighouse Echo before joining in 1976 the two newspapers she was subsequently to edit.

She had a particular interest in the small communities covered by the local newspapers, but she was also known for a lively style of writing and an eye for detail, something which she later encouraged in her reporters.

As editor, she founded Christmas toy appeals through the newspapers, as well as the Todmorden News’s services to sport award in memory of sports writer Ron Wild, honouring crucial work by people who help local sports clubs to function.

Mrs Swift was born in Hampshire, but moved to Halifax with her family as a baby and always regarded herself as a Yorkshire woman.

She was educated at Crossley and Porter Grammar School, in Halifax, before embarking on a career in journalism.

Her interest in small communities also led to her being clerk to the former Sowerby Bridge Council for a while.

She was also well known as a worshipper at St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, in Sowerby Bridge, and later St Columba’s Church, Highroad Well, Halifax.

Mrs Swift lived at Mount Tabor, Halifax, with her husband Ian who retired last year as chief photographer on the Halifax Courier.

Edward Riley, a former editor of he Halifax Courier who is now retired, described her as thoroughly professional.

He said: “Her guiding principles were always honesty, integrity and accuracy and she expected the same high standards of others.

“This was especially so during her editorship of the Upper Calder Valley weekly newspapers when she became an integral part of the local communities.”

Mrs Swift is survived by her husband, Ian, children Vikki and Richard, and four grandchildren.