Ron at the chalkboard in the newsroom.
The ‘big man’ has passed on. Woke up this morning to hear that Ron Evans – the man who gave me my job at HTV West – and who scared the living daylights out of me as the youngest reporter the company had taken on up to that time – had died at his North Somerset home.
It’s a lot to take in this early in the morning but, of course, l pass on my heartfelt condolences to his family for their loss.
To a young rookie like me, Ron was a big man – both in stature and personality – but l am grateful he saw something in me and gave me my break into television.
If you were sent out on a ‘job’ there was always the fear you’d not come back with the story he wanted. I was mumbling something to that effect in the back of an ambulance after my encounter with a plane wing at Weston super Mare airfield.
Of course, l had given him a much better story than a report on an air show! I remember how touched l was that he drove down to my hometown to visit me at the old Weston General Hospital.
There, l thought, he does have a heart! ‘How are you’, he asked at my bedside. I put on a brave front in reply. “Good”, he said, ” There’s a crew outside, so do a piece to camera thanking the viewers for their concern!”
If you did a good story or presented well in a documentary you would get a hand-written note from him. If you did bad – a verbal bollocking.
I was living at a time when being openly gay wasn’t the best time to flaunt it – though l did raise his eyebrows on more than one occasion with a flamboyant jacket here and there.
A blue one with black edging caught his eye. ‘Who do you think you are looking like a bloody million dollars’,…. or something like that, was his reaction.
There was a particular time when l was being threatened with blackmail when Ron quietly dealt with it and his intervention stopped this action in its tracks.
Loved the way the Evening Post always referred to me as ‘confirmed bachelor’ Richard Wyatt. Oh if only l had been the man l am now at that time!
I have much to be grateful to this man – both from his time in the newsroom as Head of News to his managerial time spent elsewhere in the company.
He was the hub of an operation that ensured HTV’s Report West ruled the local airwaves and was seen in more local homes than our local news rivals at the BBC. A time when families gathered to watch the news in the days before social media changed everything.
I am proud to have known him.