Belfast Telegraph

Tributes as renowned reporter Victor Gordon dies following illness

By Ivan Little

Tributes have been paid to one of Northern Ireland's best-known weekly newspaper reporters, Victor Gordon.

Victor, who was in his 70s, died just two weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. He worked for most of his career for the Portadown Times and won five awards as the top regional newspaper reporter in Northern Ireland.

Only last month the father-of-three told friends he was planning to write a book about his life and times in the Times.

Victor, who had a quadruple by-pass after surviving two heart attacks, had also beaten prostate cancer after undergoing 37 radiotherapy sessions - which didn't stop him writing.

He was an uncle of former Stormont spin doctor and Nolan Show editor David Gordon, who called him a "tenacious and inspirational legend who had a mischievous glint in his eye and never worried about who he annoyed in pursuit of a good story".

Victor's route into journalism was unusual - via a park bench.

After leaving school he spent four years as a quantity surveyor but disliked the job and retrained as a teacher, working with children with learning difficulties.

He became a social worker but he also supplied rugby notes and football reports for the Portadown Times, whose editor David Armstrong offered him a full-time job in 1970 after an 'interview' conducted on a park bench.

Apart from a brief spell as an editor in Armagh and as a freelance in Belfast, Victor worked for the rest of his life with the same newspaper.

Mr Armstrong said Victor's professionalism always shone through, especially during the worst of the Troubles and the subsequent Drumcree crisis in Portadown.

Victor once recalled that he took most satisfaction from the campaigning and crusading articles he wrote about health issues and on behalf of disabled and underprivileged people.

But he also enjoyed keeping up with Portadown's famous exiles like Gloria Hunniford. They were contemporaries at Portadown College where they used to dance together during lunchtime sessions and Victor paired up with her later in life to write extensively about her broadcasting career.

DUP MP David Simpson called Victor "a gentleman who was at the heart of the community in Portadown".

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said Victor was witty and charming, adding: "He still managed to grill me about life and politics better than most interviewers."

Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd said: "Victor had his own unassuming way of getting the news and while he was always courteous and had a quick wit, you knew you had to be on top of your game when being interviewed by him."

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said Victor was always fair and impartial and was respected by all politicians and journalists. "They don't make them like him anymore," she added.

Head of news at Downtown Radio and Cool FM Nigel Gould, who worked with Victor in Portadown, said he was heartbroken at the loss of a friend and mentor whom he called a "newshound extraordinaire".

The editor of the Belfast Telegraph, Gail Walker, said: "Victor was a great all-rounder - news was his forte but he filed some great, feisty comment pieces too."

Victor had still been writing for newspapers until a short time before he was diagnosed again with cancer.

A devoted fan of Portadown Football Club, he was a talented chorister, having sung for 50 years at Armagh Road Presbyterian Church. His funeral will be held there tomorrow.

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