Posted: July 9th, 2021
FIDELMA COOK, a former deputy news editor at the Daily Record, died on June 26 , aged 71, in hospital at Mossaic, south-west France. Medical staff believe she had a heart attack.
Fidelma began her career on the Gazette in Blackpool. She moved to Scotland and worked on the Record and its stablemate Sunday Mail, and later for the BBC and Daily Express, and latterly the Mail on Sunday. When she was made redundant from the MoS in 2006, she decided on a new life, and moved to France. From there, she enthralled readers of The Herald magazine with chronicles about her new locale. Her final piece was published the day she died. She had written in the past about her battle with lung cancer, although she was never self pitying. She was always brutally honest, too, when delivering her often blistering opinion on events.
In tribute, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “So very sad to hear this. Fidelma Cook inspired (and everso slightly intimidated!) me when I was a very young politician and she worked as a journalist in Scotland. In recent years I have loved and admired her writing. She was a woman full of heart and character. RIP.”
Herald editor-in-chief Donald Martin wrote: “Everyone at The Herald is deeply saddened by this news. She was a wonderful writer – readers took her to their hearts and she took them to hers.”
In 1999, Fidelma won Reporter of the Year in the Bank of Scotland Press Awards for breaking the story that Sean Connery had then been denied a knighthood. Fidelma also broke a world exclusive when, along with her BBC Scotland crew, she discovered a cull of seals and their pups on Orkney. The story went viral but she was told to stand down by a senior news executive because a BBC team was on its way from London. Following an exchange with the senior news executive she later resigned from the BBC in protest.
AMP Committee member Malcolm Speed, who was the Record’s news editor with Fidelma as his deputy, said: “Fidelma was just a top hand. She was rarely seen without a cigarette in her hand or between her teeth. She was a petite woman whose ability and character won over reporters following her appointment in the 1980s. She had great ability as a reporter and as deputy news editor, and in a crisis she could have a story re-jigged quickly, clearly and concisely.
“She was the first woman to run the paper’s news desk. Apart from being a colleague she was also a friend. I tried to woo her from the MoS back to the Record as executive editor, but to my great regret, she turned us down.” (Pic: The Herald)