Old Farnhamians' Association

2004 Farnham Lecture

“Newspapers Today”


Sir Ray Tindle

23 September, 2004

Sir Ray Tindle has adopted Farnham as his home and headquarters. As the proprietor of the Farnham Herald, Farnham residents may at one time have seen him in the same perspective as his two predecessors – men who owned and personally managed Farnham’s local newspaper. But this is a self-made businessman who has expanded his affairs across a much wider field. Indeed, he is an artist who paints on a very large canvas with a media empire that stretches across southern England and Wales and includes over 150 newspaper titles and radio stations.

It was a coup for the Farnham 400 Trust to secure a promise from Sir Ray in 2003 that he would deliver this year’s lecture.  The Trust hesitated before approaching him knowing that a 60 minute lecture would be a major physical challenge.

Introducing him, Sally Francis (Principal of Farnham College) said Sir Ray had been diagnosed with throat cancer about 8 years ago and lost the power of speech. He was also told he probably only had about 5 years to live. However, following surgery, Sir Ray was fitted with a device that enables him to speak provided he presses with his hand on a plastic tube attached to his chest – his determination in the business world was mirrored in his approach to these personal challenges that threatened his daily lifestyle and even his life. His presence on the podium at Farnham College was a demonstration that he has overcome both challenges.

A large audience, that included many of Sir Ray’s friends and employees as well as a good representation from the OFA and general public, heard an interesting lecture on the evolving newspaper scene in the UK. National daily and Sunday newspapers were in a declining cycle overall and the landscape had changed significantly whilst Sir Ray had been alive.

However, a growing proportion of British people were reading local papers – why was this? Because they met a need not supplied by the national press: local events with a listing of the names of participants, happenings in the schools and churches, photographs etc; which chemist was open late this week; what is showing at the local cinema; personal ads; births, marriages and deaths, etc, etc. In recent years the Farnham Herald had grown in circulation from 23’000 to 30’000.

Sir Ray spoke of the problems caused by some of the inevitable errors that arose in printing large broadsheet newspapers that might contain more than 200’000 words, or a million individual letters. One letter wrong could cause much embarrassment, and Sir Ray has a very precious collection of examples that had his audience laughing.

After taking questions, Chairman Cyril Trust thanked Sir Ray warmly for his memorable lecture and described it as a very brave act by an exceptional man.

This event was yet another highly successful annual lecture.

Ian Sargeant


Back Row, L to R: John Crotty, Cyril Trust, Maurice Stur,t Michael Horner
Front Row: Janet Maines (Deputy Mayor), Victor Duckett (Mayor), Sally Francis, Sir Ray Tindle


400 Trust
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