Hundreds honour the memory of writing legend Keith Newbery

Keith Newbery with his dog Chester
Keith Newbery with his dog Chester
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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Keith Newbery once interviewed Derek Hatton, the 1980s’ socialist firebrand and leading light of the Militant Tendency group, for The News.

The flash, Armani-suited Hatton kept Newbery waiting 45 minutes in a Brighton hotel lobby.

When he arrived, he swept past our columnist saying he needed to freshen up and would return in a minute.

Another 45 minutes passed, by which time Newbery was about to explode with rage.

The introduction to his hugely popular column that week read: ‘The man of the people swept up in his chauffeur-driven limo... ’

It was classic, award-winning Newbery, the man who hated pomposity, hypocrisy and ostentation and who always believed in the common sense of the ordinary man or woman.

He had a gift for bringing the so-called great and the good to book with a simple, expertly-honed and killing turn of phrase. The tale was told at a moving celebration of his life in his beloved Isle of Wight 

More than 450 people attended the service at All Saints’ Church, Ryde – people from all walks of his life.

Apart from his family, there were former newspaper colleagues, representatives from Newport Football Club and Newclose and Ventnor Cricket Club and hundreds whom Newbery counted as friends.

It was originally planned to hold the service in his local church, St Peter’s at Havenstreet, but it was not large enough.

Newbery died on August 1 just five weeks after being diagnosed with liver cancer.

He was 65 and had written his final column for this paper before retiring in March last year.

He had penned columns for us for 42 years.

Paying an emotional tribute to her dad, daughter Sam Barry told the congregation: ‘I thought I had the monopoly on loving him all these years, but it seems I was wrong.

‘I owe so much to the man who put me and the rest of his family before anything else and who was there for me at every turn.’

After the service in the town of his birth, people made their way to The Ponda Rosa pub just outside Ryde. Alcohol was taken, a gigantic buffet consumed and stories about the legendary journalist swopped. Newbery would have been in his element.

That ego-pricking story about Derek Hatton made the congregation laugh. Newbery would have looked down and with a wry smile, muttered: ‘Job done. Again.’