Tributes to ‘The Bard of Birkenhead’ and much loved journalist

One of Merseyside’s best-known and best-loved journalists has died.

David Charters, affectionately known as ‘The Bard of Birkenhead’ died suddenly at home in his beloved Birkenhead today.

He enjoyed a celebrated career as reporter, news editor, feature writer and columnist, famous for his elegant, almost poetic style.

Charters 72, began working life as in the haberdashery department of Robb’s store in Birkenhead, but left to join the Birkenhead News aged 17 as a cub reporter beginning a lifetime of spirited, courageous writing.

By 19, he had joined the renowned press agency Cassidy and Leigh in Guildford but Birkenhead – he famously termed it ‘that crusty old pie of a town’ – was always going to be his patch, and it called him home to open the West Cheshire News Service, a company he ran for 15 years from offices in Conway Street, providing news stories to all the national newspapers.

He closed the agency to join the Liverpool Daily Post going onto become staff reporter, night news editor, columnist and feature writer. His weekly ‘Bard of Birkenhead’ column for the Liverpool Echo entertained readers across the Wirral.

David leaves a wife, Alison, and son David Cameron Charters, also a journalist who works for the Central News agency in London’s Old Bailey.

Cameron said: ‘My father was a man whose words stretched out to the individual and brought them near; providing an escape from the crazed chaos of modern life. His prose surpassed the tawdry and cheap invective of the powerful, and soothed the souls of the humble.

David Charters receiving his honorary fellowship for his outstanding contribution to literature from Liverpool John Moores University, at Liverpool Cathedral.
(Image: Liverpool Echo)

‘He held true to his ideals his entire life, and his words, though soft resounded off the ceilings and columns of the mighty.

‘What he leaves is love not loss, joy not sorrow, but most of all he leaves words of wisdom to guide our thoughts.’

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Tributes from across regional and national media were flooding into the Echo last night.

Liverpool Echo editor-in-Chief Alastair Machray called him a ‘unique talent and personality’. Former Echo print editor Sue Lee described him simply as ‘the best of men’

Charters’ former editor on the Daily Post, Mark Thomas, paid tribute to ‘a shining star with a unique and colourful writing style, coupled with an understanding for people and a humorous touch.‘

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Daily Mirror columnist and former Echo colleague Brian Reade said: ‘Dave was undoubtedly one of the most gifted writers to work at the Liverpool Echo. When I first met him more than 30 years ago, on the Daily Post, he seemed a man out of his time. His dress sense, habits, phraseology and outlook were rooted in the past.

‘It was his obsession with the black-and-white, post-war Merseyside he was born into, and the way he could turn that world into colour with such wit and originality, that defined his work. He wrote beautifully with a superb turn of phrase about the minutiae of everyday life, lamenting a lost era of gentility when real men tipped their jaunty-angled hats to spinsters.

‘The last words of his I read were about the death of singer Trini Lopez last month: “Hammer on, wherever you are,” was his poignant tribute. It would be lovely to think that somewhere the Bard of Birkenhead is hammering out his unique brand of lyrical prose. On a vintage Olivetti typewriter, obviously.’

Away from news journalism Charters wrote the poem on the Hillsborough Memorial in Liverpool city centre and also a poem marking the tragedy of 9/11 which was later presented to the Mayor of New York.

In 2015 his brilliant work earned him an Honorary Fellowship at Liverpool John Moores University.

LJMU Director of Corporate Communications and Stakeholder Relations Janet Martin said : ‘He inspired and mentored young writers through our Journalism programmes.

“He will be sorely missed by the whole of the LJMU community.”

Liverpool Echo – Liverpool News