Sir Ray Tindle dies, aged 95

Sir Ray Tindle, the man who built a local newspaper empire from scratch to own 200 titles at its peak, has died at the age of 95.

Sir Ray began Tindle Newspapers in the 1950s, and chaired the company until he was 90 before becoming group president.

The company owns radio stations and papers across many parts of the country.

A statement from Tindle Newspapers said: “Sir Ray Tindle was a man who had a life-long commitment to, and passion for, the newspaper industry. He was a newspaper man through and through.

“Sir Ray was a man of immense self-belief and iron determination as characterised by his coat of arms, carried by all his newspapers, with the motto Noli Cedere, which translates as Never Surrender.

“It was an attitude which successfully carried his empire though six recessions and led Sir Ray to go from being a ‘general dogsbody’ on the Croydon Times in the post-war years to building up a company previously in the Sunday Times Rich List.

“Sir Ray attributed a great deal of the company’s success to the fact it had always remained debt-free.

“It was his proud boast that every title he had purchased or created had been entirely self-financed. This meant that when economic times turned harsh, the company did not have to concern itself with paying dividends to shareholders or be at the mercy of the banks.

“He died as he would have wished — still committed to the media empire he had so painstakingly created over the course of a long and distinguished career.”

The statement also stressed other ways in which Sir Ray had insisted his organisation differ from others in the UK, particularly as digital journalism began to play a greater role in local news.

“It was always the Tindle philosophy that his titles should be ‘ultra-local’ and he would often impress on his staff that what he wanted to see in his papers were local names, places and faces.

“He firmly believed local newspapers could provide the detailed community content that larger papers and online media could not.”

The history of Tindle Newspapers can be traced back to the 1950s when Sir Ray Tindle started the group with the £300 demob money he was given at the end of the Second World War.

Sir Ray bought a small weekly paper in Tooting, south London, with a circulation of 700.

Tindle Newspapers became involved in local radio in 1972 when Sir Ray led a delegation to Westminster to make the case for local papers’ involvement in the new media.

In 1973 Sir Ray was appointed OBE for services to the newspaper industry and in 1987 he was appointed CBE. In 1989 he became a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Surrey. He was knighted in 1994.

He was made the Newspaper Personality of the Year at the 2005 Newspaper Awards and in the same year he was made an honorary vice-president of the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain.

Titles currently run by Tindle include the Cornish Times, Tenby Observer, Isle of Man Today, Tavistock Times Gazette and the Farnham Herald

Apart from being a shrewd businessman, Sir Ray also had a more philanthropic side. His activities included the creation of ten Business Enterprise Centres at the height of unemployment in the 1980s, mostly in parts of the country where he had his newspapers to help the local community.

These centres operated 100 units providing rent-free premises for out-of-work people trying to start up their own business.

The scheme was highly successful, helping hundreds of unemployed people get off the ground. All the costs were met by Sir Ray himself.

The first Tindle Enterprise Centre was started at Whitehill in 1984 and was officially opened by the-then prime minister Margaret Thatcher the following year. He also founded one of these centres in West Street, Farnham.

During the foot-and-mouth outbreak Sir Ray also afforded financial assistance to farmers and small rural businesses in the circulation areas of his newspapers who had been hard hit by the agricultural crises which threatened their very livelihoods.

And over the years he also donated sizeable sums to various worthy causes and projects, particularly in and around his home town of Farnham.

He is survived by his wife, Lady Tindle, his son Owen and granddaughter Maisy.

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