Family, friends and newspaper colleagues gathered at St. Chad’s Church in York yesterday for a memorial service for Richard Wooldridge, MD of the Yorkshire Evening Press (YEP), editorial director of Westminster Press (WP) and finally CEO of the International Herald Tribune in Paris. Richard, 69, was the victim of a heart attack while on holiday in Morocco in March.
His burial was in France, where he and his family had lived since he joined the IHT, so the York service was an opportunity for those on this side of the Channel to remember him and mark his passing.
The service was led by Reverend Canon Simon Stanley, a long-standing family friend since the Wooldridge’s time in York, who recalled Richard’s passion for rally driving. He experienced terror as a passenger in a car being driven by Richard along North Yorkshire’s narrow country roads to a Sunday pub lunch.
“Sensing my unease,” he said, “Richard explained to me that driving on the wrong side of the road was perfectly legal as long as there’s nothing coming the other way.”
Nick Herbert, Richard’s predecessor as WP’s editorial director, and former YEP editor David Nicholson paid tribute to Richard’s passion for high editorial standards, campaigning journalism, and community involvement in regional newspapers.
The congregation also included former YEP colleagues Alan Potter (chief sub), feature writer Robert Beaumont and Martin King (Richard’s deputy editor and later Basildon Evening Echo editor), and David Kernek (aka David Flintham) his successor as YEP editor and later editor of The Northern Echo.
One of Richard’s biggest YEP campaigns was the – inevitably doomed – fight to stop the Nestlé’s Rowntree take-over in 1988. As happenstance would have it, the rumble of tumbling brick could be heard in St. Chad’s as the demolition of the 1926 Terry’s chocolate factory on the other side of the Knavesmire began. Terry's was taken over in 1993 by Kraft, which closed the factory in 2005 and moved production to Europe. Its closure brought to an end more than a century of chocolate-making in York.