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Reporter Sheila Gow honoured by the Queen

By This is Sussex  |  Posted: January 08, 2010

  • MBE HONOUR: Reporter Sheila Gow

  • EARLY DAYS: Sheila Gow (second from right) with colleagues Frank Sellens, Ann Allcock and Faith Lee

  • HEADLINE NEWS: Sheila Gow was first journalist on the scene at the 1994 Cowden train crash

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DEDICATION to local newspapers in a career that has spanned more than four decades has earned our very own Sheila Gow an MBE.

Mrs Gow, who writes for the East Grinstead Courier and Observer, was included on the New Year's Honours list for her services to journalism.

Speaking of the moment she found out she was to receive the honour, Mrs Gow said: "I thought 'why me?'. There must be hundreds of journalists who have done what I have done."

The mother-of-two started her career as a trainee reporter on the Tonbridge edition of the Kent and Sussex Courier and has worked on many of the group's titles throughout her career including a 20 year stint in Edenbridge.

She said: "I spent 20 years as reporter in chief in Edenbridge. They were 20 of the best years I had."

Mrs Gow's interest in reporting started at a very young age.

"I have always wanted to be a journalist," she said.

"When I was still at school I suddenly had the urge to work on a newspaper.

"I just loved everything about newspapers, how you get a glimmer of a story and dig and dig until you have all the information."

The former Tunbridge Wells Grammar School student has seen many changes in the industry since starting out.

She said: "I think the biggest change has been from hot metal to computers and the advances in technology in general."

Mrs Gow has covered many memorable stories in her time, from a flood which devastated Tonbridge's town centre in 1968 to the chaos caused by an unexploded bomb in Lingfield in 2002.

But perhaps one of the biggest stories in her career was the Cowden train crash in 1994 which claimed the lives of five people and left many more injured.

After hearing emergency sirens while walking near her home in Fordcombe, Mrs Gow was the first journalist on the scene.

Although her career has been dedicated to the Courier Media Group and local titles, Mrs Gow was offered opportunities to work in the national media.

She said: "The main reason for staying with the Courier was because of my family. My family has always come first.

"But I have had the best of both worlds. I have always done a job that I loved and been there for my family whenever they have needed me."

She added: "Local papers give tremendous service to the community which I think sadly is very often undervalued."

Mrs Gow has yet to find out when she will visit Buckingham Palace to collect her award, which also recognises her work as an NVQ assessor for trainee journalists.

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    Simon Kerr, East Grinstead  |  January 11 2010, 4:30PM

    This is a message for Carole (see below) I am currently researching the EG Courier for the years 1960 to 1963 and have found quite a few photos of stars such as Conrad Phillips (who I seem to recall lived at Blindley Heath) . You can find our email by looking for East Grinstead Tourist Information on Google, and I look forward to sending you as many photos as I can find! This is just the sort of story that Sheila Gow loves! I also happen to have visited Mandurah a couple of times recently so I would appreciate being able to repay the hospitality show to me by all you 'sandgropers' down under!

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    Carole Webb (nee Golightly), Mandurah, Western Australia  |  January 11 2010, 3:31PM

    I was intrigued with the snow in UK and in particular East Grinstead where I lived and worked (Crawley Down) over 46 years ago. I congratulate Sheila on her award and this triggered off a thought that has haunted me for 40 years now. I was the "Carnival Queen" in 1961 I think it was, It was the year Conrad Philips was a judge, Peter Butterworth crowned me and Sir Kenneth Moore was present at the fete I attended after a tour of the Queen Victoria Hospital. I worked for "Young and Sons" in the High Street and many photos were taken but unfortunately my album was lost many years ago. I have nothing to show my grand children at what was a very special time of my life. If anybody has photos in their old albums, I would gladly pay the postage. My girlfriend Mary who lives in Forest Row, has checked to see if the papers have any copies but they said they only keep them for twenty years. I would be so thrilled to receive at least one picture. I often look up East Grinstead on the websites and my old school, Sackville, it was all the happiest time of my life. I am 65 now, yet it all seems like yesterday when I rode on the back of the big red cadillac up the main street, waving to what seemed to me like thousands of people waving back at the "Grand Parade". Maybe I will be able to visit one day and see it all once more. Carole Webb (nee Golightly)

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    Cllr Mark Rhodes, Hildenborough  |  January 10 2010, 6:59PM

    Hearty congratulations to Sheila on her award. It's been quite a long time since she reported on Area 1 planning meetings at Tonbridge Castle. Well done Sheila.

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