In Memory of Jim Robb - Editor of the Ayrshire Post
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Jim Robb. Click here to view full size.Former Carrick Academy pupil Jim Robb died earlier this month after a long battle with cancer. His funeral service was held at Ayr Crematorium on Wednesday March 24 2004. Jim, 54, was the editor of the Ayrshire Post but he had also been editor of the Ayr Advertiser – a unique distinction. Colleague Jim Cuthbert wrote this tribute to him.

Tributes have poured in for Jim Robb, the editor of the Ayrshire Post who died last week after a long illness. He was 54. Jim, who sadly lost his brave battle with cancer, had a long and distinguished career which began in 1967 when he joined the Ayr Advertiser as a young reporter.

Even in those early days, he displayed a polish and professionalism that belied his relative youth and a mere five years later, at the age of 22, he was appointed editor - at the time, the youngest newspaper editor in Scotland.

Under his stewardship the newspaper flourished. In 1986 however, he was “head-hunted” by rival Scottish and Universal Newspapers and became editor of the Post’s sister paper the Dumfries and Galloway Standard, overseeing the successful conversion of the paper’s Friday edition from a broadsheet to a tabloid. In doing so, he also demonstrated his particular talent and flair for page layout and design. However, that talent and all-round professionalism was to be tested to the extreme by the Lockerbie disaster two years later. It was one of the biggest news stories to break in Scotland and the incident happened only 24 hours before the newspaper’s deadline. However, for its subsequent coverage of the event, Jim was nominated Journalist of the Year in the 1989 Press Awards while his reporting team shared the Reporter of the Year Award.

A former colleague who worked with Jim during his seven years at Dumfries was Doug Archibald, the paper’s present chief reporter. And in his own tribute to his former editor he claimed: “Jim was a great person to work for since he combined a quiet, easy-going manner with a true professionalism that earned everyone’s respect”. In 1993, Jim left Dumfries and joined the Ayrshire Post as chief sub editor and was subsequently appointed editor on the early retirement of Tom Workman.

Here again, Jim’s trademark personality of getting a professional job done with the minimum of fuss earned him the respect, not only of his editorial team but of everyone with whom he came in contact. Tom said: “For years Jim and I were adversaries him as editor of the Ayr Advertiser and myself as editor of the Ayrshire Post. He was a tough opponent with high standards and always produced a quality newspaper. “When he left the Advertiser to join the Dumfries and Galloway Standard, I must confess I did not share the grief of his Advertiser colleagues. “However, when Jim returned to Ayrshire a few years later I was delighted as he joined me at the Post as my chief sub-editor.” He added: “Jim’s talent was immense. He could design pages in an exciting way which made you want to read them. “He was full of idea and ways to tell and present stories. Although he came across as a quiet mild mannered man, he would fight vigorously for editorial values, where ever they were compromised.

“Jim was a true professional, nothing less.” And Tom’s tribute was echoed by John Scott, editorial director, Scottish and Universals Newspapers, who said: “Jim Robb was an absolutely first class professional. He will be a terrible loss to the company and to the Ayrshire Post in particular. “He combined a warm, friendly and caring personality towards all with whom he came in contact with a dedicated professionalism in the handling of day to day tasks and fearless approach to big and controversial issues. “His was the absolute quality that you look for in an editor.” South Ayrshire Provost Gordon McKenzie also paid tribute to Jim. He said: “Although Jim had been ill for some time, it still came as a shock to be told of his death and my thoughts are with his family.

“I have very fond memories off Jim, as a journalist he was always firm but fair. As editor of the Ayrshire Post he had a job to do and he did it well, always keen to ensure that he hand his staff produced high quality work. “As a person Jim was a true gentleman, and that is how I will remember him.” Jim Robb was born in the shadow of Somerset Park and he retained a lifelong long love of football, supporting Ayr United and Hearts in almost equal measure - the latter influenced by his father. He also enjoyed golf and indeed sport in general was his consuming outside interest. But it was his commitment to his profession and his dealings with others that he will be best remembered. In that context he was highly regarded not only within his profession but also in the wider community.

For in an age of aggressive journalism, Jim Robb was both a gentleman and a gentle man. But above all, he was a consummate professional of whom it was both a privilege to work for and count as a friend. Journalism was richer for his contribution and it is much poorer for his passing. Jim is survived by his wife Anne Marie and his son Stephen.