Thursday, 11 February 2016

Newspaper man dies after stroke

THE FOUNDER of the newspaper The Advertiser has died at the age of 65.

Mel Wilson died in hospital in Preston on Friday after suffering a stroke three days earlier.

Born in Liverpool, he moved to Millom, his father’s birthplace, and attended Millom School before joining the Merchant Navy.

Later he and his wife Irene were both working at Haverigg Prison when they decided to take a sabbatical and turn their energies to producing a newspaper, The Millom Advertiser.

Mel had always wanted a sales job so he sold the advertisements and his wife set the adverts.

The first edition – two sheets stapled together by the Wilson family, who sat up all night doing it – was distributed on May 22, 1980, the pages having been printed on an old press owned by a butcher.

Two years later the Wilsons moved their operation from their home in Millom into premises in Crellin Street in Barrow and their product became the Barrow and West Cumberland Advertiser and went from strength to strength. They later moved into Scott Street in Barrow as they set about turning their “sheet” of advertisements and occasional features into a “newspaper”.

The Wilsons were particularly proud that The Advertiser became the first newspaper in Cumbria to run with full colour – a front page picture of a windsurfer.

Advertising price wars led to The Advertiser coming under the Reed Regional Newspapers banner but the Wilsons were concerned about the future of their staff when Reed sought to gain a 100 per cent interest in the product.

So on March 13, 1990, the Wilsons bought back the stake they had sold to Reed and the same day sold the whole company to Cumbrian Newspapers, which had already established itself in Barrow by buying the North-West Evening Mail.

Mr Wilson was a keen rugby player in his younger days and then turned his interests to sailing and clay pigeon shooting. Later, he took up an interest in magic and became a member of the Magic Circle.

When the Wilsons sold their home in Millom, they moved to Woodland, near Broughton. After selling the business they had a time living in Whitehaven and then Skelton, near Penrith, before moving to Over Kellett, Carnforth.

After leaving the newspaper industry, Mr Wilson eventually became the North West award-winning team leader for Kleeneze, the home-shopping company.

Recently he appeared on BBC TV quiz show The Weakest Link, where he was the beaten finalist. As competitive as ever, he said: “Had I been given the eventual winner’s questions to answer, I would have been the winner.”

He leaves his wife Irene, son Andrew and daughter Helen.

Have your say

I met Mel a good few years ago when he came to Ireland with his hobby of Vintage car rally. He took time out to meet friends and trained their friends on how to improve their life. He did this free gratis.
My thoughts with you Irene and your family at this sad time.
I seen him do his magic in Birmingham with a group of close friends.
I enjoyed spending time in his company

Posted by Gerry Melanephy on 14 July 2010 at 17:59

A truly great man, an amazing leader and mentor, inspirational in every aspect of his life, what a privilege to have known you Mel. You were a very dear friend and the world has lost a wonderful man. Sadie and I have fantastic memories of you teaching us Magic tricks, the laughs and the fun x
God bless ‘Magic Mel’ from your Magicians assistant Debbie Gee

Posted by Debbie Gee on 14 July 2010 at 16:30

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