Fri, 14 June, 2024

Gloria ‘Glo’ Sharpe

Posted: June 27th, 2023

GLORIA “Glo” SHARPE, longtime secretary to several Daily Mirror senior executives, and partner of former Daily Mirror chief photographer Kent Gavin, died on June 26 [2023] after a period of ill-health. She was 79. There will be a celebration of her life at 2.30 pm on Thursday, July 20 at The All Saints Parish Church, 6 Steeple Way,  Doddingurst, Brentwood CM15 ONN,  followed by drinks at The Shepherd Pub, Kelvedon Hatch , 34 Blackmore Road CM15 0AT.  Please email to help confirm numbers.

Tribute by Alastair Campbell. Photo: Kent Gavin/Mirrorpix

Glo by name, Glow by nature … of the many, many people who make up the fabric of the Daily Mirror’s history, did anyone ever glow quite as much as Glo? Did anyone ever spread so much joy, so much empathy, so much kindness?

Of course, we all knew her name was Gloria, but apart from when Gavers decided it was time for home and for the Stab to be vacated, and so shouted a kindly “Gloriaaaaaa” across the bar, did we ever think of her as anything other than … Glo? No. Glo was Glo and now, alas, she is gone, a few months short of her 80th birthday.

Let’s be frank about this though … that is not a bad run for someone who was fond of a tipple, fond of a smoke, and saw sleep as something of an intrusion into a life she believed should be lived to the full.

Gloria Jean Sharpe was born in Hitchin, Herts, on September 24, 1943, one of four children, three girls and a boy, but spent most of her childhood in Bethnal Green, East London. You didn’t have to be long in her company to know it. She was proud of her roots, loved her community and the characters it made. “I walked to school every day on my own, from the very first day,” she would recall, “and never for a moment felt unsafe in that place. People talk a lot of nonsense about the East End. It was a great place to live.

She was something of an athlete, her school’s top sprinter who represented East London in competitive races, and took special pleasure in beating girls from posher schools in posher areas. They had all the best gear, all the best facilities, proper coaches, and yet she left them trailing in her wake.

After leaving senior school in her mid-teens, Glo went to Pitman’s College to learn shorthand, and in her later life wasn’t averse to reminding reporters on the paper that her shorthand was better than theirs. Which it was.

Her first job at the Mirror was in advertising, but she found her true self in the heart of the paper on the main editorial floor, where she was so, so much more than a secretary. Glo was part of the glue that held the place together. Tall and striking, straight-backed and with a smile never far from her lips, ever ready to morph into a full-blown laugh, she could take an age to walk from one end of the editorial floor to the other, stopping to chat, cajole, encourage, spread a little bit of Glo love and Glo magic.

Mark Dowdney, one of two foreign editors for whom she worked, put it like this: “Glo lit up the newsroom just by being there. I’ll never forget her ‘hello darlin’’ greeting every morning, which cheered me up for the entire day. She was a Mirror star.”

She could handle anyone, always with the same charm, warmth and authenticity. When working for politics supremo Joe Haines in particular, she was in pretty regular contact with some big and difficult characters from the worlds of politics, media and business more broadly. But whether talking to a messenger or a Maxwell, an MP or a minister, she was always the same. No airs and graces. Direct, confident, efficient. Totally committed to the Mirror, its staff, its readers, and what the paper stood for.

“From the moment I first met her,” recalls former editor Roy Greenslade, “I saw her as the authentic voice of the Daily Mirror. In every way – accent, attitude, passion – her working-class qualities personified what the newspaper, at its best, was all about.”

When my partner Fiona [Millar] and I first arrived at the Mirror as trainees in the early 80s, Glo could not have been kinder. She knew everyone on the paper, she knew everything about the way it worked, and she was always willing to share what she knew to help others. Having her in your corner was not a bad way of getting established in the place.

It meant that we reciprocated whenever she needed a bit of support too, like the night she and Gavers had a big row in a Greek restaurant in Camden Town in the early hours, and she came to sleep on the sofa in our one-bedroomed flat in Belsize Park. By the morning, if a bit hungover, Glo had nonetheless forgotten what the row was about, and was keen to get into the office and make up with Gavers.

Glo and GaversGavers and Glo … what a couple. And a couple they truly were. I don’t think I am telling any secrets out of school when I say that Kent Gavin could be a bit of a challenge as partners go. He too always believed in living life to the full, and had enough opportunities travelling the world with the Royals to do so.

“How do you put up with him?” Princess Diana once asked Glo, accompanying Gavers to a showing of Phantom of the Opera at the Haymarket Theatre in London. “How do YOU put up with him?” retorted Glo. With Royalty too, no airs and graces, no fear, just Glo being Glo.

When Glo retired, Robert Maxwell threw a party for her. He too, for all his faults, recognised something very special in Glo. We all did.

Gavers will be devastated to lose her. Theirs was a love that was as deep as it was enduring, for all the ups and downs in any relationship as long as theirs. But though his grief will be the deepest, he is not alone – because anyone who ever knew Glo will miss her deeply. She was a one off. She was indeed a star. More than that, she was a symbol of something very special in the Mirror, and the broader media culture, of that time. Glo. Glorious Glo. RIP.














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