Obituary Bill Spicer, Features Editor

The Daily Express Features Desk, Christmas 1979.  Left, Charles Govey (Deputy Features Editor), centre Bill Spicer (Features Editor), right Mike Shmith (Assistant Features Editor) 

By ESTHER HARROD, former Features Secretary

Bill Spicer, Features Editor of the Daily Express in the 1970s, passed away in April 2018 after a long illness borne very bravely. He was 84. 

After Bill lost his lovely wife Mona to cancer in 2003, he decided to return to his roots and settled back into a new life in his old childhood village of Ashington in Northumberland, back among old school friends who still fondly called him Billy.  It also brought him closer in miles to his daughter Fiona and granddaughter, Thia who still lived in the area.

 Bill embraced being back up North after all his years of working in Fleet Street and enjoyed travelling overseas as much as he could, visiting friends in America and his son, Wyn, in New Zealand. Bill and his wife also had a small bolt hole in France which they much enjoyed together.

Bill was a no-nonsense Northerner and a practical man. I recall one year asking him what he was buying Mona for Christmas. He replied quite seriously: "A Black and Decker drill”, explaining that while he possessed no DIY skills, Mona did and she enjoyed doing such jobs around the house. He assured me it would be her dream present as opposed to a nice bottle of perfume!

Feature writers and subs will remember Bill fondly although he could be quite difficult sometimes. He was a focussed and determined individual and a great mentor, with a dry sense of humour. We certainly had a lot of laughs in the Features room. Happy days.

Bill was born in Kilmarnock, Scotland, but when he was four, his father moved the family to Ashington, Nothumberland, searching for employment in what was the world's largest mining village at the time.

He started his journalistic apprenticeship at the Newcastle Chronicle in 1951.  Around 1956 he left England to commence his great adventure, travelling and working his way through Europe. He wrote about his trip in a manuscript of 13 chapters which has only come to light since his death. 

Upon returning to the UK, Bill worked for a provincial paper for a couple of years and then went to London where he found employment on the Daily Sketch, doubling up at the Daily Mirror to improve his income and skills.  He was offered a job at the Sun, before                  Rupert Murdoch took it over and then later joined the Daily Express.   

Following his departure from the Express, Bill went to work for Syndicated Features just off Gray’s Inn Road, eventually ending his career at The People. 

His son Wyn said: “My father was a great family man and I have been very lucky to have enjoyed some great adventures with him and have many wonderful memories of the times we all enjoyed together. I'll miss his wisdom, his sage advice, love and support which he gave freely to all of us.”

© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre