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Tributes paid to ‘folk hero’ journalist Simon Ricketts

31 May, 2019 — By The Xtra Diary

Detail from the order of service (left) for Simon Ricketts

The choir of St Bride’s Church roused the hearts with a soaring rendition of Sunshine On Leith and A Day In The Life before Simon Ricketts was banged out for the final time.

The Guardian journalist’s service in the famous Fleet Street church was on what would have been his 51st birthday.

Diary knows through experience that having come through local papers, including the Watford Observer, Ricketts was encouraging to those who had followed in his footsteps.

“You should never dismiss, never ignore, never belittle, the tiny connections we make in our daily lives,” Simon had said in one of his blog entries, read to the service.

“Like tiny filaments of fibre optic, alone, they don’t seem important. But together they provide a brilliant light.”

He could see the value of journalism, however low down the food chain people may believe we sit. We are not all covering the stories you may have seen in After Life, we are not just collectors of angry people in local newspapers.

It is commonplace now to say that Twitter is not what it used to be, that it is a kingdom of trolls, a fountain of vile abuse.

It also can be full of vacuous hot takes, a platform for politicians tweeting what they’ve just done seconds after doing it.

Simon was extremely popular on Twitter for precisely the opposite reasons. He focused on the best of what people saw, rather than the worst.

Diary suspects “CheersSimon” was trending the night before the service and in The Guardian obituary he was described as a “folk hero”.

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