Sat, 20 April, 2024

Neil Freeman

Posted: July 10th, 2023

Former MGN IT specialist NEIL FREEMAN died suddenly on May 29 [2023], aged 68. His wife Alexandra Calver sent us these words:

“Neil had an extraordinary life. In his younger days he was a radio officer on freighters and cruise ships, sailing all over the world. After he left the Merchant Navy he worked for several companies, starting out as a technical advisor on Pressfax, and ending up as an IT director at Mirror Group. At that point he said that he had “reached his own level of incompetence”.

“He was very involved in moving the Mirror to Computer to Plate (CtP) production. And as the world progressed from 1999 into 2000, Neil spent the night in the print site at Oldham to ensure the technology didn’t malfunction – a possible IT meltdown had been forecast.

“He thought very highly of the people he worked with, and often had a tale to tell. One of them was about the night that Norman Walker, the then general manager at Watford, couldn’t get a bed for the night when visiting sites up North. He gave Neil a ring as he knew Neil had a hotel room. Neil met Norman in the hotel bar, and shared his bed with him that night! It resulted in Neil getting a lift back to London in a helicopter with Norman, at the same time as Princess Diana’s funeral procession was heading down The Mall. Neil had a bird’s-eye view.

“Neil was medically retired in 2008, and decided to set up his own charter sailing company in the South of France, named The company was successful, and he encouraged many people to share his passion for sailing. The weekend before he died, he was sailing and having fun, and was so happy.

“Neil had daughters Kim and Jodie from a previous marriage, and four grandchildren Mia, Arthur, Polly and Matilde.

“The picture is a caricature which was made of him at one of the international print shows he attended. I hope you recognise him!”

AMP secretary former MGN Group Technical Director GERALD MOWBRAY: “I first met Neil Freeman in late 1997 when he was working for Perske Price, the supplier responsible for installing the new Hell Pressfax page transmission and receiving system required for sending colour and mono pages to the new remote colour-printing centres.

“Neil was very much involved in the successful commissioning of the transmission systems in Holborn Circus, and the receiving systems in Stamford Street, London, and in North Watford, Oldham, Belfast and Glasgow. He joined the expanding MGN Group Technical Department in 1998 to oversee the receiving equipment at North Watford, and subsequently also at Oldham.

“MGN’s national titles went into full colour in May, 1998 using the new MAN Colorman presses at the remote print centres. Neil was very much part of the team that ensured the successful switch to full colour. The Mirror’s circulation leapt from circa four million to 4.5 million copies soon afterwards.

“Neil was a true professional and I had great respect for his contribution to the transfer to full colour printing at MGN. He was a valued and respected team member of the technical department. After I left MGN at the end of 1992, I understand that Neil progressed in his job at North Watford, becoming the IT director for the remote printing centres in later years.”

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