The Guild of Motoring Writers is deeply saddened to report the death of Life Member and former honorary treasurer Mike Ford.
Mike (81) joined the Guild in 1969, and served as honorary treasurer for 25 years, retiring from the role in 2011.
He worked for 40 years at the Southern Daily Echo in Southampton, working mainly as motoring editor and business editor.
Mike is survived by his second wife, Jill, whom he married in 1975, and a daughter, Michelle, who lives in Italy. Mike also has a stepdaughter and stepson.
He was editor of the newsletter for the Royal Southampton Yacht Club, although he suffered poor health in recent years and recently had a pacemaker fitted.
Former Guild honorary secretary Chris Adamson said: “Mike and I were colleagues for many years when he was motoring editor at the Southern Daily Echo and I was motoring editor at the sister paper the Bournemouth Echo. We would often double drive on car launches, I would collect him from his home in West Wellow and we would then drive to the airport and fly off to destinations worldwide so I got to know Mike very well.
“He was a great support and adviser when I was fresh into the industry and through Mike I was encouraged to join the Guild and then assist him with editing Update subsequently taking over the role of editor from him.
“I shall always remember his calm assurance in all situations (Mike was unflappable) along with his careful considered opinions in all matters. He was a true professional and a great role model.”
Former Guild member Alyson Marlow said: “Mike was one of the great characters in regional newspapers and the heartfelt tributes on social media from former colleagues at the Southern Daily Echo are testament to his experience, his calm persona and his lengthy service to the newspaper.
“I worked with Mike for 13 years on the business and motoring desk at the Echo but over the years our remit extended far beyond the Echo and we were supplying motoring copy for many Newsquest titles.
“He relished taking on another title for us to supply and masterminded the task of ensuring each newspaper received the right copy on the right day. There’s no doubt that Mike put the hours in. Such was the way of newspapers in those times lieu days accumulated at quite a rate and I remember Mike managed to retire almost a year early based on time owing – a very shrewd move!
“I was always a motoring fan but it was Mike who introduced me to the world of automotive journalism, gave me the opportunity to drive amazing cars around the world and was always very accommodating when I needed time off for rally co-driving.
“Mike was a great person to work with and I learnt so much thanks to his tremendous newspaper and motoring experience.”
Friend of the Guild Chris Willows, former communications director at BMW UK, said: “From the first time I attended a press event for BMW in the 1980s, I remember Mike being there. He was an inseparable part of the group of journalists that formed the travelling band of brothers who came together to judge the latest offerings from we manufacturers.
“And it was a merry band — we had our job to present our products in their best light while the journalists came to shine their light on the truth as they saw it and keep readers and listeners well informed. Some say it was a time where the ‘two sides’ were too close but my experience was that this friendly relationship rarely prevented free and open assessments of the products on show.
“I always remember Mike with great fondness and he formed part of this travelling gang as well as handling his wider duties at his south coast publications. He attended countless press launches, dinners and other events and while he was always quiet in company, when he spoke it was worth listening.
“He was a man of considerable experience, knowledge and competence. Above all Mike was a fine journalist. Sadly he joins a long list of friends and colleagues from happy, and somewhat more relaxed, times in the world of motoring journalism. He will be much missed.”
Mike’s funeral took place on 1 September, with a limited number of attendees due to current Covid-19 restrictions.