David Chipp remembered with affection
Thursday 20 November 2008
David Chipp was remembered on Thursday as "a proper boss, a caring colleague, a faithful friend and a daring newsman".
Those words were spoken by John Ransom, Reuters’ former area liaison manager, on behalf of colleagues from Chipp’s time half a century ago as a correspondent in Asia including Vergil Berger, Bill Gasson, Mrs Hagio, Jimmy Hahn, C.P. Ho, Ernie Mendoza and Ransom himself.
They were a happy family, Ransom said at a service of thanksgiving for Chipp, former editor of Reuters, who died in his sleep at the age of 81 on 10 September.
St Bride’s, the journalists’ church in London where Chipp was a guild member, was packed for the service. It is adjacent to 85 Fleet Street where Chipp spent much of his career, with Reuters from 1950 until 1969 when he was appointed editor-in-chief of the Press Association, national news agency of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Other tributes and readings were by Michael Nelson, former general manager, who read from Ecclesiastes 3:1-13, Reg Evans, who recalled the Chipp era at the PA, Jonathan Grun, who read an excerpt from A.G. Macdonell’s England, Their England, and Guy Black who recalled “a remarkable life lived to the full that so enriched ours”.
Black, of the Telegraph Group and former director of the Press Complaints Commission, recalled Chipp as “reporter, raconteur, bon viveur, Kingsman, oarsman, Guildsman, Honorary Australian, devout Wagnerian, defender of the press, wit and wag”.
He said: “David, of course, had various gradations of friendship. Some were honoured to be introduced as his ‘only respectable friend’. But for people he didn’t like - the pompous and the preening - there was the stiletto style put down: ‘I think he is only a fairly nice man.’”
Chipp’s time in Peking, where he trod on Chairman Mao Zedong’s toe and got away with it, was also recalled.
“Many people who trampled on Chairman Mao would have been sent on the first boat home. Or shot,” Black said. “But you can imagine Chipp fixing Mao with his broad grin, and the twinkle in the eye, and quipping his way out of trouble.
“Mao himself, of course, became part of the family of friends, even giving David his very own Chinese name - ‘Qi Dewei’ which David would proudly explain meant: ‘Lacquered Defender of Morals’.”
PHOTO: Ian MacKenzie’s picture shows David Chipp on his way to the Remembrance Sunday ceremony in London in November 2007. ■