'Trailblazer' was Mercury's first female editor
THE Teesdale Mercury’s first and only female editor has died aged 84.
Described as a “trailblazer” Allene Norris edited the newspaper in the Sixties before becoming a popular BBC Radio Cleveland reporter for more than two decades.
She was born in Darlington on January 31, 1936, and attended Arthur Pease Primary School before moving on to Eastbourne Secondary Modern. After leaving school, she joined The Northern Echo as a cub reporter – at the time the profession was dominated by men. Her son, Richard James, said: “She was quite a trailblazer. At that time of her life she was an energetic person. She was quite prepared to roll up her sleeves to get stories and build up contacts.
“She became a well-known local person.”
Mrs Norris had a good sense of humour and during an interview in 2014 she recalled several amusing moments during her stint in the editor’s chair at the Mercury.
One of those was when taxi owner Peter Murton placed an advert following a theft at his office, which read: “Will the persons who stole the two chairs from Murton’s taxi office please collect the sofa. Thank you.”
The night the ad appeared, Mr Murton went on a call after locking his door. When he got back, the sofa was gone.
The tale was picked up by news agencies and appeared in print as far as the US.
She once recalled: “It was a typical Teesdale Mercury ad. I put on the front page the following week – ‘It pays to advertise in the Teesdale Mercury’.”
Her energy was also channelled into her love for the theatre and she appeared in a number of productions with the Darlington Operatic Society, taking the lead role in Annie Get Your Gun.
Her son said: “I can remember sitting with her helping her memorise her lines.”
The former editor was also a published author, producing a number of children’s books as well as books about Darlington through the ages.
Among her bibliography was a book about the street where she grew up – Duke Street.
Her other passion was her family.
Mr James said: “She was very much a grandmother. I have four daughters and she was very influential in their lives after my wife died of cancer at an early age.”
Mrs Norris is survived by her son Richard, daughter Kerry, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.