A FORMER Malvern Gazette journalist fondly remembered as a "wordsmith" and "true newspaper man" has died aged 59.

Stalwart news reporter Rob Hale, who lived in the town for most of his life, left the Gazette in 2019 after 31 years in the industry and carried on writing as a freelance.

Rob developed strong Malvern contacts as a reporter and covered a diverse range of stories, including attending the infamous Castlemorton Common rave in 1992.

His younger brother Simon, 58, recalled: "He was very much a wordsmith. It didn't surprise me that journalism was his path going forward.

"Rob wanted to be aware of things around him. He wanted to record them for others' benefit to inform or help people further down the line."

Born at Ronkswood Hospital, Worcester, in 1964, Rob was the first child of Richard, a geography teacher at Hanley Castle Grammar School, and Margaret, a physiotherapist.

He attended the former Hillside School and The Chase School.

Simon said: "We always had different interests - I was more into sport and Rob was into music and reading.

"Rob went to Cardiff University. I had left Malvern to join the Royal Air Force but then I was based near Cardiff so we got in contact again.

"I'd started watching Liverpool FC. Me and my mate would go over on the Friday night and sleep on my brother's student flat floor so we could get an early train from Cardiff to the game.

"When Rob got back to Malvern he started at the Gazette which was his main job for more than 30 years.

"He was vivacious and outgoing and The Nag's Head was his place of choice."

Rob, who lived in the centre of Great Malvern and died last month, also leaves former colleagues with fond memories.

Mike Maloney, his line manager for several years, said: “Rob loved reporting about Malvern and was always keen to know when other reporters had a story about the town.

“No sooner would they mention the word ‘Malvern’ and Rob would leap up out of his chair to ask what was going on.

“He was a private man but occasionally would talk of his passion for film, books, music and aeroplanes.

“He was a true newspaper man who enjoyed the printed product.

“Rob was also a very accomplished proofreader and would often spot the odd error before the paper went to press, proving a great help to the team.

“He liked nothing better on a Friday morning than leafing through the latest edition of the Gazette to double check all was well. He will be missed.”

Another former colleague James Connell said: “Rob was an excellent writer. I remember him as well-educated with an encyclopaedic knowledge of cinema and films.

"He would travel in every weekday to the newsroom by train – and once gave me a valuable tip-off about armed police at Worcester Foregate Street station.

“He had excellent contacts throughout Malvern which served him well both at the Gazette and the Worcester News.

“Though he was quiet, when he did speak there was no mistaking his voice which was very loud and clear.

"He had a dry sense of humour and could often be observed chuckling at his desk if someone made a mildly outrageous joke.

"Though not argumentative by nature, he was not afraid to speak his mind when he had a strong opinion, regardless of whether it might clash with the views of those further up the chain of command.”

There will be a private cremation for Rob whose mother died in 2013 and his father in 2016.

Looking further ahead, Simon added: "There will be a gathering to raise a glass in tribute to Rob."