Tributes to a gentleman, war hero and inspirational newspaperman

The funeral of Sir Gordon Linacre at St Giles Church, Bramhope, Leeds
The funeral of Sir Gordon Linacre at St Giles Church, Bramhope, Leeds
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WARM tributes were paid to an “inspirational” newspaperman and decorated RAF bomber pilot whose funeral was held in Leeds today.

Former and current editors and directors gathered with family and friends for a service at St Giles’ Parish Church to celebrate the life of Sir Gordon Linacre who died earlier this month aged 94.

Family tributes came from his daughters Anthea and Philippa and from Sir Gordon’s cousin, David Seymour.

Opera North, which was co-founded by Sir Gordon, paid its own tribute as soprano Lorna James sang a beautiful aria from the opera Gianni Schicchi by Puccini.

Mr Seymour recalled his relative’s wartime bravery and post-war successes in regional newspapers, first as a journalist and editor and later as chairman and president of Yorkshire Post Newspapers, among other important posts in the industry.

At the time of his knighthood in 1986, Mr Seymour recalled his cousin receiving a powder blue Rolls Royce as a gift from a colleague.

Sir Gordon jumped in his new car and took his mother, in her 90s and living in Sheffield, for a drive around Derbyshire before calling at their favourite eaterie.

Earlier in his career he had been a co-founder of Opera North, “one of his great achievements and delights,” said Mr Seymour.

Though convivial and widely admired, there was an steeliness to Sir Gordon’s personality.

“Beneath the surface, there was a bomber pilot lurking,” he said. “He was convivial and formidable.”

“Gordon was a great man and lived a great life. He was an inspiration to me and to many others.”

Sir Gordon’s daughter Anthea described her father as a “great optimist” who was generous and fun.

“He did not talk badly of people and was always at the forefront of patching up extended family squabbles.”

Reverend Janice Smith described him as “just such a lovely gentleman.”

After the service, ex-Yorkshire Post editor Tony Watson said: “Gordon was an absolutely inspirational character and a gentleman with a real sense of fun - and a very good journalist.”

And former Yorkshire Post deputy editor Chris Oakley said: “I just have enormous admiration for Gordon; not just for his business acumen but as a man. He had great qualities and I owe him a great deal because he made deputy editor of the Yorkshire Post.”

Mourners included many past and present members of staff at Yorkshire Post newspapers, including former editors Chris Bye and Malcolm Barker, current editor Jeremy Clifford and managing director Helen Oldham.

Also present were former Yorkshire County Cricket Club chairman Robin Smith and Lord Stevens of Ludgate, former chairman of United Newspapers.

Sir Gordon died, aged 94, on February 5. Lady Linacre died in 2013.

* Born in Sheffield, Sir Gordon was seven when he announced he wanted to be a reporter.

He fulfilled his dream at 17 when he got a reporting job on the Sheffield Independent.

The day after the outbreak of the Second World War, he and his best friend Raymond Somerfield joined the RAF and became bomber pilots.

In 1941 Sir Gordon was awarded the DFC while Mr Somerfield was killed in action the following year.

On the way to collect his medal, Sir Gordon was accompanied by Mr Somerfield’s ex-fiance Irene who showed him the way across London.

They later married, forming a partnership that would last 70 years. Sir Gordon enjoyed golf, fly fishing and hill walking.