Posted: October 23rd, 2013
Henry William Leonard Sandys – universally known as Len – died on September 21 (2013) aged 87.
Proud of his status as a true cockney, Len’s early education and interest in a writing career were interrupted by three years in hospital with TB.
His Aunty Florrie got him his first job as a runner for John Bull magazine, marking the beginning of a lifelong career in the newspaper industry.
Len later joined The Sporting Life as its speedway reporter – leading to the publication of his collection of biographies of speedway stars “Broadside to Fame”, and the broadcasting of his radio play “Robin’s Rocket”.
Len moved to administration management on the Life in a post he held for many years. Life on the Life changed a great deal when the paper moved from Long Acre to Holborn when Odhams Press was merged with the Mirror Group and other publishing companies to form the International Publishing Corporation.
In later years at Mirror Group Len helped to form the MGN Managers’ Association – a sort of polite trade union.
Len eventually crossed the bridge from Orbit House in New Fetter Lane to the Mirror building – as heir apparent to Pat Stack, manager of editorial services such as library, darkroom, copytaking, Marge Proops’s correspondence desk, editorial assistants and telecommunications.
He was joined there by Bill Berentemfel, who said: “Len was a great guy. He was unflappable and a very nice person to work with. Len was a man-manager with whom staff were comfortable; he was liked by all, he was jovial, sociable and always willing to help individuals when asked.
“He loved writing, and his local newspaper carried many of his letters and articles. For years his book was a topic of our conversations. I am not sure it ever got past chapter two but we enjoyed happy hours in the pub discussing it.”
Carolyn Cluskey, who worked with Len for many years and succeeded him into editorial management on The Sporting Life, said: “Len interviewed me for my first post on the Life and he and I enjoyed a brilliant working relationship from day one. He taught me such a lot and there was never a dull moment.”
Len’s hobbies included a passion for sailing, jazz, especially Louis Armstrong, gardening and dabbling in the stock market.
He retired aged 60 in 1986 having ceased to enjoy life under Robert Maxwell. He leaves wife Janet, daughters Alison and Joanne, and five grandchildren.
By BILL ROWNTREE, former Mirror Group photographer
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