Thu, 20 June, 2024


Andrew Golden

Posted: August 3rd, 2023

ANDREW GOLDEN, former Sunday Mirror reporter, FOC, NUJ convenor,  MGNPS trustee – and deputy chairman of the trustee board – died on August 1 [2023]. He had been suffering from an incurable lung disease.

In tribute this autumn, Mirror Pensioner – the AMP’s twice-yearly magazine – will be publishing Andy’s Mirror Pensions Story, covering the battle he helped to fight and win to save our pensions after Robert Maxwell’s death and subsquently discovered thefts.

From Deborah Thomas, chairman of the AMP: Andy was shown off the premises of the Daily Mirror building back in the nineties and told never to darken their door again, because of his union activity. Management, in the form of David Montgomery, did not like him but the rank and file did.

Andrew was FoC at the Sunday Mirror for ten years, first for the National Union of Journalists, then for the British Association of Journalists (BAJ). He was a top-rate investigative reporter, and had also played an important part in helping to stabilise the Mirror pension scheme after the Maxwell fraud came to light.

Your employer cannot dismiss you for union activity. Andrew and the union took up proceedings against Montgomery and management. Many former Sunday Mirror senior executives, including editors, were prepared to give evidence in court on Andrew’s behalf. The case was eventually settled out of court in autumn, 1998.

It had been a gruelling time. What a delight, then, when MGN pensioners voted for Andrew Golden to represent them on the MGN Pension Scheme’s Trustee Board in October 1999. He was back in the building. They confirmed their faith in him every three years after that by re-electing him until he resigned in 2018.

It was Andrew and Bob Bayliss, his deputy FoC on the Sunday Mirror, who persuaded my husband, Steve Turner, to start a new trade union for journalists, the BAJ. I can say without fear or favour that quiet, deep-thinking Andy changed my life. He will be deeply missed.

Andy’s former colleague Peter Miller said: “Andy will be remembered for many things – he was a brilliant reporter and and an immensely talented musician – but he will always be respected and valued for the immense work he did to save the Mirror pension scheme. Andy had incurable lung disease. When it was diagnosed he was given five years and that was nearly six years ago. He was awesomely brave and an example to us all.”

By journalist and broadcaster Simon Howson-Green, Andy’s close friend and colleague for 40 years: “Andrew Golden, who died on August 1 [2023], will be remembered by his many friends and colleagues from the world of journalism as a superb reporter. But that is just one sliver of his life well lived.

“He was always skilfully spinning the plates of his whirlwind existence. He hardly ever let one hit the floor. As one close colleague from those newspaper days recalls: ‘I can still picture him on the telephone at his desk at the Sunday Mirror in Holborn – with that big bush of curly hair – juggling stories, union business, rock-drumming gigs, and romance. His phone rang all day long: musicians, girlfriends, contacts, mates. The man knew how to enjoy the life and he would take so many of us with him for the ride.’

“Andy would describe himself as one of a dying breed of newspaper reporters who plied their trade while picking their way through the dying embers of ‘Fleet Street’… Those days before the white heat of the digital revolution melted the metal presses, and social media created a world where anyone with a mobile phone could masquerade as a journalist.

“He would say he was part of a fading generation which would soon be gone forever. He’d say this with no regrets. Life throws things in your direction… and you should always try to catch them, was Andy’s approach. He was a romantic at heart, especially over a long lunch with long-standing buddies, fuelled with a few glasses of his favourite Picpoul de Pinet. Some friends were affectionally known as ‘The Old Curmudgeons’.

“All who knew him as a journalist would agree Andy was from the old school: attention to detail, a stickler for facts, and reticent to sell himself or anyone else short in the stories he wrote. A credit to his trade.  However, in the final couple of decades of his life – once he had left the noise of the newsroom, the doorstepping and the deadline behind, it was to music he turned.

“Look at the wide and varied parts of Andy’s life, put them together, and it’s clear it was as a musician and a composer for which he would most like to be remembered – and with good reason.

“Andrew was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, in late December 1949, which would later lead to some disappointment when Sting and The Police sang Born in the Fifties. After school, he went to Salisbury College to study law and journalism before landing a job on The Salisbury Journal.

“He was a keen drummer, and from a young age he recalled stories of practicing in his parents’ suburban garden – to the annoyance of neighbours – and early gigs with stretched plastic sheeting for drum skins. All a far cry from the international tours and album releases he would go on to with the likes of Mick Green, guitarist with Johnny Kidd and The Pirates, and Eric Bell of Thin Lizzy.

“Drumming was just one part of the rhythm section of his life. Andy leaves behind a touching, charming and unforgettable legacy with his music. His song about climate change ‘Fire, Fire Planet’s on Fire’ was recorded with his talented 12-year-old granddaughter, Nanaho.

“He’d been asked to write something with a climate-change flavour. In the process of developing the song on the guitar, Nanaho began singing it around the house. He took her to the studio, and as he explained: ‘She perfectly captured the message I was aiming for. It was important not to be negative – like glueing yourself to the motorway making people miss funerals, hospital appointments and planes. It had to appeal to everyone to highlight the dangers and to work together. Andy signed with a U.S. distributor to have the song released around the world. He was also campaigning to get it played on BBC local radio. Sadly, he didn’t live to see that happen. The song is on YouTube. It’s simple, toughing, memorable, direct and well worth listing to: (https://youtu.be/Exlx1LdGTvQ)

“As idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis disease took its toll, some of Andy’s later music was the most beautiful he’d composed. He often worked with what he described as the fever of the condemned man. His mini-symphony, ‘Viola’s Lament’, is breathtakingly moving. If he’d lived longer –IPF took him at 73 – he would happily have spent his time at his stunning Cyprus hideaway, working on his music and, no doubt, gaining some serious recognition.

“Despite his romantic, poetic leanings, Andy was not given over to melancholy or nostalgia. He lived in the moment. But latterly he would talk about his real concerns for the future of this planet and the generations which will inherit his generation’s dubious legacy. At the time of his death, he was working on two illustrated novels about climate change. He was also collaborating on a project called ‘Climate Critters’, designed to raise awareness of the threat to the environment among children.

“In recent years, Andy enjoyed organising a Christmas lunch with many of his former Sunday Mirror colleagues, and at last year’s it was evident he wasn’t well. ‘I’ve a bit of a problem’, he told those who asked, and when pressed, said he’d been given five years. Asked when that was, he smiled and said: ‘Five years ago’. At another gathering last May, he needed oxygen to help him breathe, and yet spoke enthusiastically about meeting again in the summer.

“Andy Golden left another legacy for which so many of those who worked at Mirror Group in the aftermath of the Maxwell scandal will be eternally grateful. Andy was Father of the Chapel on the Sunday Mirror, and Mirror NUJ convenor, and he will forever be remembered, respected and valued for the immense work he did to save the Mirror pension scheme.

“There is one ironic twist to Andy’s story. For many years he took on the responsibility to let many colleagues from his newspaper days know when one of their number had gone to the newsroom in the sky. He could do this with care and compassion because he knew and stayed in close touch with so many.

“As one of his colleagues said on hearing of his death. ‘We all have Andrew Golden tales to tell – and we will, whenever we meet, until the last man or woman standing.’”

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.