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NUJ tribute to Michael Reilly

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30 August 2019

For umpteen years, union stalwart Michael Reilly flew the flag for Berwick and Borders journalists at Scottish executive council meetings and ADM/DMs.

He was an amiable individual, happy to listen to others' points of view. But this concealed a steely determination which occasionally manifested itself when chapel-management negotiations got tough, or the other side tried to pull a fast one. And he wasn't afraid to tell it straight to colleagues either.

But more often than not it was his calm, measured tones which contributed most in discussions with fellow members and bosses.

As well as being greeted with sadness, news of Michael's passing in a Tyneside hospice at the age of 73 also brought back happy memories for many who were fortunate enough to count him as colleague and friend.

Born in Edinburgh, Michael grew up in the East Lothian town of Prestonpans. After leaving school, he completed a film-making course in Bournemouth before joining the Tweeddale Press Group in 1976 as a photographer with the Berwickshire News. He retired in 2010.

Away from work, Michael, who lived in Berwick, was a keen gardener. He loved travel - especially to warmer climes - and was fluent in both Spanish and French.

At his packed funeral service at Houndwood Crematorium in Berwickshire on August 28, it was revealed Michael was a bit of a "champagne socialist", owing to his predilection for an occasional glass of bubbly. When challenged about this apparent clash with working-class credentials, he simply answered with a smile, relaxed in the knowledge that he had probably done far more for hard-pressed employees than his accuser ever would.

John Toner, NUJ Scotland national organiser said: “Michael was a quietly spoken man, who spoke succinctly and only when he felt a point had not been made by someone else. Because of this, we were always attentive to his wise words. He will be remembered fondly by all of us who had the pleasure to know him.”

Michael (December 23, 1945 - August 16, 2019) is survived by wife Aileen, and children Jamie, Sarah, Emma and Alex.

Tags: , Michael Reilly, obituary, Tweeddale Press Group, Berwickshire News