THE proprietor of the New Milton Advertiser and Lymington Times, Charles Curry, has died at the age of 98.

Charles took the reins as editor of the A&T in 1966 following the death of his father, Frederick, and was at the helm for almost 50 years.

During his time in charge, the family-owned newspaper became recognised and respected nationally, with coverage of local village events to major police and court stories in the region.

Charles was born in Canada in 1920 and enjoyed a unique trip home from the hospital after the Mayor of Toronto, who knew his father, sent his Rolls Royce to collect him.

Frederick returned to England in 1925 and relaunched the Christchurch Times before selling his shares in the newspaper in 1930 to buy the neighbouring New Milton Advertiser. The Lymington Times was launched two years later.

Charles finished his schooling with almost no qualifications and started a job at the A&T in 1936, which would go on to be his only place of work for the rest of his life other than his national service with the Royal Air Force.

He grew up in Kennard Road, New Milton and lived next door to Catherine Bugden. They both served in the Second World War but returned home and rekindled their friendship before marrying several years later.

Catherine’s son Tony from a previous marriage was welcomed into the home by Charles and the family grew with the couple’s daughter Caroline in 1952 and son Eddie in 1954.

At the A&T, Charles’ initial work as a reporter saw him collect names at funerals, cover council meetings and the various tasks his colleagues did not want to do. After 30 years at the paper, he took on the role of editor after his father’s death. He maintained a grass roots approach to the publication, which continued to expand and thrive in the New Forest.

In 1990, younger brother Teddy, who dealt with the accounts side of the business, decided he wanted to retire but Charles wanted to keep working.

He met with former colleague Sir David English, who had gone on to enhance the Daily Mail, in a bid to maintain the A&T.

Sir David had been keen to buy the business but set out conditions which Charles did not think were agreeable.

Instead, he took the task on himself by borrowing money from Barclays Bank after re-mortgaging his house, with the support of wife Catherine, who suffered from peripheral neuritis for 30 years and required Charles’ help alongside his work at the paper.

A landmark moment in the newspaper’s history came when he won a planning appeal to build a new printing hall at the site in Compton Road. Charles bought a scrap Hoe and Crabtree converted letterpress printer and reassembled it in New Milton with power from a John Deere tractor engine and a marine alternator.

This set up continued to deliver the weekly newspaper until last year when printing was moved to Portsmouth and the paper went colour.

His services to journalism and the newspaper industry were recognised when he was made an MBE in the 1997 New Year’s Honours. Charles remained editor until 2012, providing his Townsman’s column on various subjects of interest.

Reflecting on his career, Charles told the A&T: “By nature I am not one who likes meeting people in groups, though talking to individuals is one of the great pleasures of the job.

“I believe that over the last 70 years more trainee or apprentice reporters from our titles have reached further up the ladder of journalism than from other similar papers.”

He added: “During my years here we have covered tens of thousands of stories, both happy and sad. Although royal visits and high-profile events are part of the job, it is often the lives of local people that make the most fascinating stories.”

Charles died peacefully on Saturday, February 2 at Beach Crest Nursing Home in Barton, where he had been a resident for the past 18 months.