Wed, 23 January, 2019

Lively debate at AGM

Trinity Mirror CEO Simon Fox was the unexpected speaker at the Association’s AGM in London this week (October 20) following the unavoidable last-minute absence of scheduled principal guest, company group finance director Vijay Vaghela. Vijay Vaghela will attend the Glasgow annual meeting on November 2, as planned. (Words Caro Cluskey, pic Bill Rowntree.)

The meeting was lively though not particularly well attended –  about 80 game souls made the journey to the St Alban’s Centre off Gray’s Inn Road to hear reports, discussions and questions on various pension, financial and company matters.

Other TM representatives present were deputy group finance director Philip Brown, group pensions manager David Astley, and Carol McNamara, group pensions administration manager.

‘C’ director trustee Alan Burns attended and spoke briefly.

Simon Fox reported on Trinity’s “difficult trading conditions” but reiterated that the company was determined to support and protect its two main dependants – its pension schemes and its shareholders.

In response to ex-marketing man Ron Carpenter’s complaints (Ron is pictured here, in full flow) about the duplication of sports content in the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, Simon Fox agreed this shouldn’t be happening and promised to “speak to the editors”. (However, for a different take, see Roy Greenslade’s blog from August 19 this year:

Simon Fox undertook to follow up complaints about lack of availability of Trinity Mirror titles in newsagents and supermarkets, and invited members to report instances direct to him at:

Detailed discussions on matters of particular interest to AMP – deficits, schemes merger, the future of the Aviva insurance policy, for example – did not take place due to the absence through illness of independent trustee chairman Joanna Matthews. It is hoped she will be able to attend the meeting in Scotland on November 2.

Philip Brown confirmed the company’s increased deficits-reduction timetable to 2025, stating that the company expected investment income would then bring the pension schemes into surplus by 2027.

There were several tributes to now ex-chairman but new deputy chairman Tom Brown, who stood down from the top job because of health difficulties caused by Meniere’s disease. He will continue to be active in AMP affairs, although attending meetings in person will not be possible for the time being. In Tom’s absence Monty Court chaired the meeting, also reading out Tom’s final chairman’s report.

Secretary Gerald Mowbray reported on the AMP’s stable financial status as well as giving his secretary’s report – covering, among other subjects, autumn newsletter, website relaunch, Equitable Life, pensions schemes merger and AMP membership levels.

Members were urged to help the AMP’s recruitment drive when meeting or communicating with old colleagues at non-AMP events, lunches, dinners and other occasions when they cross paths with Mirror Group’s pensioners and active or deferred pensioners.

Chairman-designate Jill Palmer was endorsed by the meeting, and the current secretary, Gerald, and treasurer Roy White, were re-elected along with the current committee, apart from the five who have stood down to become honorary committee members (as reported in the Association’s recent Mirror Pensioner magazine.) They will continue to be involved, via email.

Next year’s AGM will be at the same venue at the same time on October 25 – St Albanʼs Centre, Baldwin Gardens, off Grayʼs Inn Road, London, 11.30am.

This year’s Scottish annual meeting is on Monday, November 2 from 11.30am at the usual venue, Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail office, in Glasgow.

Trinity cuts affect AMP

THE Association of Mirror Pensioners regrets that the forthcoming and future issues of Mirror Pensioner magazine will be sent to AMP members only. Pensioners who have not joined AMP will no longer receive our bumper autumn newsletter, writes chairman TOM BROWN.

With generous financial help from Trinity Mirror, previous issues had been printed and mailed to around 9,000 Mirror pensioners and deferred pensioners, irrespective of AMP membership.

But Trinity Mirror says it is having to review every one of its costs and has informed us that, as part of a cost-cutting programme, it can no longer provide that support. The company’s latest report showed increased cost-cutting – from £10M to £20M.

A director explained: “As you will be aware, trading is tough and we are having to take further cost actions to support the business. In light of this we have given serious consideration to our continued funding of the newsletter and regret that we will be unable to fund the cost.”

AMP feels it would be unfair to our loyal paid-up members to use association funds to continue to extend distribution of Mirror Pensioner to non-members.

The AMP fund has been contributed by members for professional advice and legal services, which can be expensive, and for supporting members who have to take action to receive their pension entitlement. In today’s fast-changing pension environment, it is vital to have that financial protection.

Our annual spring newsletter is unaffected because the printing and postage are paid for by AMP, and it will continue to be distributed to AMP members only, as now.

If you are a member of Mirror Group “Old” Scheme with its linked Past Service Scheme (PSS), and/or the MGN “New” Pension Scheme, you are eligible to join the Association of Mirror Pensioners.

There’s a joining form on the “Join Us” page (see drop-down menu above). Simply double click on the PDF and print it out.

This autumn’s issue of Mirror Pensioner, now in production, will include all the latest news about our pensions, plus stories about our ex-colleagues (and what they get up to!) and a special members-only travel offer.

DON’T MISS IT! If you are not an AMP member – JOIN NOW!

Our latest Patron

THE AMP has a new patron in the House of Commons – Ian Austin, Labour MP for Dudley North.

A former journalist, Ian has always been a friend to Mirror people and was a front-bench spokesman on work and pensions in the last Parliament, so is particularly well suited to our needs.

He replaces our two former Commons patrons – Labour MP Tom Clarke, who lost his Coatbridge seat at the general election, and Conservative Lorraine Fullbrook, who stood down.

After a spell as a sports journalist in the Midlands, Ian Austin was Deputy Director of Communications for the Scottish Labour Party, and in 1999 was appointed a political advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (later Prime Minister) Gordon Brown.

He was elected MP for his home town in 2005 and is now one of the most active back-benchers, outspoken on behalf of anyone he represents. He was the only Labour MP to increase his majority at the general election.

One of his lesser-known achievements is to have twice been nominated as official “Beer Champion” for campaigning on behalf of local pubs and brewers, including successfully requesting that beers from his local brewery in Dudley be served in Parliament.

Ian told the AMP: “I would be delighted to become a patron of the Mirror Pensioners group and offer any support and advice I can.”

Our other Parliamentary Patrons are: House of Lords, Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay and Lord  McFall of Alcluith; Scottish Parliament, Michael McMahon MSP; European Parliament, Jacqueline Foster MEP.

Keith Waite exhibition

An exhibition and sale of 40 of KEITH WAITE’S sharpest Daily and Sunday Mirror cartoons is to be staged in July (2015) in his home town of Ipswich. Some of the money raised will aid the town’s St Elizabeth’s Hospice, where Keith died last year aged 87.

Keith Waite was one of Britain’s greatest-ever political and social cartoonists and his work is eagerly sought by collectors. He worked for the Daily and Sunday Mirror from 1969 until 1986 – when he walked out after a furious row with Robert Maxwell.

Many of the cartoons on display will feature Premier Margaret Thatcher and some of her ministers. There will also be a cartoon of Arthur Scargill. One of the cartoons will be raffled in aid of St Elizabeth’s Hospice. The other cartoons are for sale and a proportion of the proceeds will also go to St Elizabeth’s. The exhibition will be aboard the restored sailing barge Melissa, moored at Ipswich’s Orwell Quay. It will be open from 10am to 7pm on Saturday, July 4 and Sunday, July 5. AMP members are welcome.

Keith’s widow Renee said: “A published newspaper cartoon is relatively small but the original artwork is large and incredibly detailed. Working out how to organise the display on a barge is a little more tricky than in a gallery!” New Zealander Keith, a prize-winning childhood cartoonist, came to Britain in 1951. He was the Cartoonist Club’s cartoonist of the year in 1963.

During his long career, he worked in Glasgow for the then Kemsley-owned Daily Record and Daily News, then Punch, the Daily Sketch, and the old Sun before it was sold to Rupert Murdoch.

After he left the Mirror, Keith spent a year sailing before joining The Times City Diary. He retired in 1997. Renee paid tribute to Keith’s prolific output. “It might seem like a heavy workload but Keith produced three cartoons a day for many years. He also produced line drawings, watercolours and woodcuts, many of his great love, the sea.”

Did you get yours?

AMP members should have received their exclusive spring newsletter which was sent out in the post from Monday April 27 (2015). If you did not receive yours (see page 1, left), please let us know using the Contact Us form.

Diary note: 2015 AGM and Scots’ annual meeting

A NOTE for your diary: the Association’s 2015 Annual General Meeting will be held in the St Alban’s Centre (Baldwin Gardens, off Gray’s Inn Road, London EC1N 7AB), on Tuesday, October 20, starting at 11.30am.

The Scottish Annual Meeting kicks off at 11.30am on Monday, November 2 (2015) at the Daily Record and Sunday Mail offices, Glasgow G3 8DA.

Trinity Mirror’s group finance director VIJAY VAGHELA will speak at both meetings. Do try and attend if you can, and don’t forget to sign the members’ register.

Brave Willie’s medals

MANY will remember the indomitable WILLIE SOUTAR, who worked at the Daily Mirror from 1934 to 1986, principally as art editor and later as strips editor. Willie died in 2008 aged 88, and now his daughter Carolyn has put forward a collection of Willie’s medals and other memorabilia to be sold at auction at Spink on April 23.
Carolyn said: “I’m selling not for the money, but because, sadly, I do not have anyone to pass these precious items on to. I decided to go to auction rather than let them be ‘just another exhibit’. This set includes Willie’s Military Medal, awarded ‘In recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the Middle East’, and some Mirror memorabilia.”
Willie’s Lot 33 is featured in the Orders, Decorations, Campaign medals and militaria sale which starts at 10am on April 23 at Spink’s London HQ, 69 Southampton Row, London WC1 4ET (
Here’s the full description from the auctioneer’s catalogue:
A Second War Western Desert ‘Wireless Operators’ M.M. Group of Six to Gunner W.R. Soutar, Royal Artillery: a) Military Medal, G.VI.R. (993647 Gnr. W.R. Soutar. R.A.), surname officially corrected; b) 1939-1945 Star; c) Africa Star; d) Burma Star; e) Defence and War Medals, M.I.D. Oak Leaf; the campaign stars and medals official later issues, extremely fine, with the following related items:
*The recipient’s two Mentioned in Despatches Certificates, dated 5.4.1945 and 27.9.1945; Named Buckingham Palace enclosure for the M.M., and Defence Council enclosure for the Campaign
*The recipient’s Record of Service, Soldier’s Release Book, and National Registration Identity Card
*Two letters to the recipient from Hugh (later Lord) Cudlipp, Editorial Director of the Daily Mirror
* Letter to the recipient from the Press Secretary, Clarence House
* Copy of Twelve Legions of Angels, by H.C.T. (later Lord) Dowding, this slightly damaged
* Portrait photograph of the recipient, together with four more photographs
* Various copies of the Daily Mirror covering the death and funeral of H.M. King George VI, partly
designed by the recipient
* Hand-drawn card [caricature] presented to the recipient on his retirement from the Daily Mirror
* Copy of the recipient’s obituary in The Times, 12.1.2009 (lot) £800-1,200
M.M. London Gazette 19.3.1942 No. 993647 Gunner William Richard Souter [sic], Royal Horse Artillery (Scarborough) ‘In recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the
Middle East”.

Hooray Hooray for the 1st of May

To all Garth’s Day May Firsters out there – let us know if you can join us.

Happily, there’s still a thirst to raise a glass or three to the memory of the inimitable Garth Gibbs and, sadly, so many others from the Mirror family who are no longer with us.

For the fourth year running, Garth’s Day is on. We’re also back at The Harrow, just off Fleet Street (Whitefriars Street) from 12.30pm onwards.

As per usual, it’s a tenner a head (in a bucket on the bar on the day – your money, not your head!) to cover the cost of grub and private use of the two upstairs rooms.

Please check your busy diaries and let us know if you are able to make it: or so that when we have sufficient numbers we can secure the space.

Election result

Current “C” director trustees ALAN BURNS and ANDREW GOLDEN were re-elected in the recent ballot, polling 1,381 and 1,176 votes respectively, and will serve for a further three years.

Scots committee man RUSSELL STEWART, the third candidate, polled 576 votes.

Ballot forms were sent to 4,390 service pensioners of the Mirror Group Pension Scheme, the MGN Pension Scheme, and the MGN Past Service Pension Scheme. (A “service” pensioner is someone who worked for the company; those receiving a pension as a dependant are not entitled to vote in trustee elections.)

The total votes cast were 3,133. Considering the importance of the work of the “C” director trustees it is something of a surprise that so few excercised their right to vote.

*Full report and much more in the AMP spring newsletter – sent to AMP members only – in April.

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