Tributes paid to Bard of Birkenhead David Charters

Charlie Spargo's picture

One of the most recognisable and respected journalists in the North West, David Charters, has died suddenly aged 72.

The much-loved 'Bard of Birkenhead' worked in Liverpool media for more than 50 years, starting at the Birkenhead News aged 17. His career saw him working as a renowned reporter, news editor, feature writer and columnist, with a talent for prose and form.

Charters wrote for the now-defunct Liverpool Daily Post, where at various times he served as a staff reporter, night news editor, columnist and feature writer. For the Post's sister title the Echo, he wrote a popular column which appeared in the paper's Wirral edition.

Brian Reade, columnist at the Daily Mirror and former colleague of Charters, said he "was undoubtedly one of the most gifted writers to work at the Liverpool Echo. When I first met him more than 30 years ago, on the Daily Post, he seemed a man out of his time. His dress sense, habits, phraseology and outlook were rooted in the past.

"It was his obsession with the black-and-white, post-war Merseyside he was born into, and the way he could turn that world into colour with such wit and originality, that defined his work... The last words of his I read were about the death of singer Trini Lopez last month: 'Hammer on, wherever you are,' was his poignant tribute.

"It would be lovely to think that somewhere the Bard of Birkenhead is hammering out his unique brand of lyrical prose. On a vintage Olivetti typewriter, obviously."

David Charters is survived by his wife Alison and son David Cameron Charters, who works at the Central News Agency. His son said: "My father was a man whose words stretched out to the individual and brought them near; providing an escape from the crazed chaos of modern life. His prose surpassed the tawdry and cheap invective of the powerful, and soothed the souls of the humble.

"He held true to his ideals his entire life, and his words, though soft resounded off the ceilings and columns of the mighty. What he leaves is love not loss, joy not sorrow, but most of all he leaves words of wisdom to guide our thoughts."

Charters was writing right up until this month, publishing a piece titled 'Tramps and kings in the halls of history' on September 7th for the Echo.

Dan Kay, the Echo's Live Content Editor (Sport), paid tribute on Twitter, saying: "So sad to hear of David Charters' passing, was still putting his column online for him as recently as last week, lovely man and stellar wordsmith."

The paper's Editor-in-chief, Alastair Machray, said The Bard of Birkenhead was a "unique talent and personality". On Twitter, Reach Group Wire Editor and Echo columnist Susan Lee called him "a great friend and the best of men. Toodle pip for now Dave". Liam Thorp, Political Editor, called Charters "a real legend".

Arts Editor Laura Davis said: "Dave was wonderful when I first started at the [Daily Post], welcoming and full of advice when I was young and shy. Later he became a good friend. As journalists we are always supposed to be able to find the right words but I can’t today".

Dedications to the Bard have also come from national figures, with the Mail on Sunday's Mark Hookham saying: "David was a beautiful writer and a brilliant journalist. He was the heartbeat of the Liverpool Daily Post when I started there 19 years ago - and the readers adored him."

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