A former editor of the Abergavenny Chronicle and Abergavenny Gazette has died following a lengthy illness

Don Chambers, who was editor of the Abergavenny Chronicle in the 1960s, died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 86.

Don was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six years ago and attended the Memory Clinic at Mardy Park which helped him a great deal. But his illness became worse during the last two years and in September he was hospitalised. He was a resident at Glanbury House, Plas Geller, Brynmawr when he died.

Don was born on November 24, 1936 in Cwmgwrach, a small mining village in the Neath Valley to Dad Harold, a park keeper and lover of the bowling green and Mum Irene.

The family moved to Cowbridge in 1939 so Harold could help with the war effort by working on a farm. They later moved to Llanfair Kilgeddin where Don attended the village school where he passed his 11plus to attend King Henry VIII Grammar School. He often recalled that while his parents were very proud they were shocked at the cost of his uniform.

Don left school after passing his O’levels and wanted to join the police force but was not happy when told at the local police station to call again when he had completed his National Service.

He served in Germany and Holland during his two years’ service and returned home to work as a junior reporter on the Abergavenny Chronicle, getting promotion to sports editor and eventually editor.

In October 1963 he married Julie Richards whose stepfather Peter Worthing was an officer in the Monmouthshire Police Force.

In 1970 he was tempted by an offer from Thomson Newspapers to set up the Abergavenny Gazette in direct opposition to the Chronicle with chief reporter Meyrick Phillips and photographer Barrie Masterton.

One of the first journalists to join him was Lesley Flynn who recalled: “He was a newsman through and through and taught me so much, including training me as a sub-editor so I could lay out the pages and check the stories.

“He had so many funny stories to tell including how he rode a bicycle to get around when he first joined the Chronicle as a junior reporter.

“One day he was asked to cover the court at Cross Ash police station but by the time he arrived there on his bike he was soaked to the skin so the policeman’s wife told him to take off his wet clothes so she could dry them in front of her fire. She wrapped him in a blanket and he sat in court in that blanket all morning.”

In 1973 Don moved to work for the Welsh daily newspaper the Western Mail in Cardiff so he and Julie and their two daughters Petra and Deborah moved from their Govilon home to Malpas.

Two years later he got a job teaching journalism and law to students at Colchester Avenue College in Cardiff.

Julie said: “He loved teaching the students until he was 68 when the course closed. Luckily he got a job with the Pontypool Free Press as he was not ready to retire.

“On one of his walks around the town he approached staff at Pontypool College to start a new course for journalists which was agreed and he taught there for another two years until he retired. He and Julie returned to live in Abergavenny in 1993.

Ever the newsman, Don didn’t let retirement stop him writing and he was soon back in the newsroom at the Abergavenny Chronicle to write his popular nostalgia column.

“Don loved everything about being in a newsroom and I was delighted when he not only offered to write a column for the Chronicle, but agreed to come in to the office for a few days every week,” said Chronicle editor Liz Davies.

“He had taught most of the team at the Chronicle and remained a great mentor and friend, so it was wonderful to have him in the newsroom to continue to share his knowledge and experience, which he did in the most generous way.”

“As a new editor it was also very reassuring to have him in the office next door to hand out advice whenever I needed it,” she added.

Don was never happier than when he was spending time with all his family and he is survived by his wife, their two daughters, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

The arrangements for the funeral will be published next week.