FORMER Evening News journalist Ken Smart has died, aged 74.
Kenneth Smart was born on December 26, 1940 and went to Broughton High School. After leaving school, he joined the phone room of the old Edinburgh Evening Dispatch where he learned to type the stories reporters phoned into the office.
There were no places at that time in the Dispatch reporting team, so he moved to the Galloway Gazette, where he would whiz round the countryside on his motor bike, covering stories until he fell off one day and broke a leg.
He also worked on the Press and Journal in Aberdeen before returning to Edinburgh in 1964 as a general reporter on the Evening News, which by then had been merged with the Dispatch.
He quickly made his mark and moved on to specialise in local government, covering the then Town Council. He had a spell as Deputy News Editor but preferred the front line, digging out the stories, so became local government and political editor, covering Lothian Region and Edinburgh District Council and their ultimate amalgamation into the City of Edinburgh Council, with regular trips to Westminster thrown in.
Former Evening News deputy editor Hamish Coghill, who worked with Ken for many years, said: “His concise, fluent, informed, sensitive and always accurate reports – often sent in the old style of running out of a meeting to the nearest phone and dictating straight from his notebook to the copytakers and thus into the next edition of the Evening News – saw him win the coveted Reporter of the Year accolade in the Scottish Press Awards in 1982. His wide range of contacts in many fields also provided an endless flow of stories for the paper.”
Ken married Margot Ainslie in 1972 and their son David was born two years later. Ken and David shared a love of aircraft and together made many trips to air shows in Scotland and England.
In 1996 Ken became the council’s Press and PR Manager, or Lord Provost Eric Milligan’s spin doctor, as he sometimes described it.
He was also a member of the High Constables of Edinburgh, which meant on formal occasions wearing morning dress and silk top hats and carrying a heavy silver baton.
In his retirement Ken became involved with the Pilton Elderly Project and with the North Edinburgh Community Newspaper.
He also took up golf at Kilspindie – in his younger days he had played rugby for Lismore and remained a critical observer on TV of Scotland’s performances at Murrayfield.
He became ill just over a year ago and faced a trying time with characteristic fortitude.
He died peacefully in St Columba’s Hospice on December 17.