Chichester remembers a man of integrity with the passing of journalist Peter Homer

Fond tributes have been paid to the man dubbed “Mr Chichester.”

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 10:01 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 12:38 pm
Peter Homer

Peter Homer, who has died at the age of 77, was the public face of the Chichester Observer for thousands of people for more than 40 years.

Known for his huge professionalism, calmness and kindness, Peter was the consummate journalist, scrupulously fair and respected and liked by all.

Peter, who passed away last week after a short illness, began with the Observer in March 1966 and stepped down as chief reporter and news editor in 2007. He continued to cover local government issues for the paper for the next few years and also wrote a widely-read wine column.

Peter was born in the West Midlands in 1942 and would have been 78 in April. Details of his funeral remain to be confirmed.

He is survived by his wife Jennifer and children Tom, Jack and Lucy.

Jack said he would remember his father for his genial, modest manner: “He was even-tempered, a sunny disposition and unassuming. He did not have many close friends, but he knew hundreds and hundreds of people.

“When you walked down East Street with him, he would say hello to 50 people. He just knew so many people.”

Peter interviewed Laurence Olivier in the early days of Chichester Festival Theatre. Several times he also interviewed British poet and patron of the surrealist art movement Edward James, who lived near Chichester.

A highly cultured man, Peter also had a great love of classical music: “Back in the day, he used to review vinyl classical records. He had a huge collection. He loved music, and he loved reading. One of the sadnesses was that as he approached the end of his life, he had quite bad glaucoma which prevented him from reading.”

Chichester city councillor and three times former Mayor of Chichester Anne Scicluna said: “Peter was one of Chichester’s great journalists, who always reported fairly and honestly, so that people were pleased to tell him things and give him their news.

“After his official retirement I frequently met him while he was on his daily walks and was sure of a cheerful greeting and a smiley face. The city gave him a Civic Award some years ago – an award which was richly deserved. We are a fortunate for having him as one of our citizens.”

West Sussex county councillor Louise Goldsmith knew Peter for more than 30 years: “A lovely man who I had considerable respect for.

“Peter Homer will be fondly remembered by many local politicians. A regular attender and shrewd observer of council meetings, he understood local politics very well and nothing missed his eye.

“He was very knowledgeable, an excellent journalist, very much a Cicestrian, a man of integrity, indeed a real gentleman in all senses of the word. My very sincere condolences to his family.

“He was very much the old school report, the like of which we will never see again, and I have to say I was an avid reader his wine column in the Observer. He made some terrific recommendations.”

Gary Shipton, the editor of the Chichester Observer and its sister titles, first started working with Peter Homer nearly 40 years ago.

"Everything Peter wrote so perfectly epitomised the concept of trusted, local journalism.

"Peter was a true gentleman. He treated everyone with respect. His manner was always calm, his thinking always rapier sharp. When the really big and sometimes tragic stories broke, Peter would always bring a sense of peace and clarity to the newsroom.

"I know just how much he was admired by all the councils he covered – not least the district and county authorities. His sense of fairness, of political neutrality, his forensic attention to detail and accuracy singled him out as a reporter that every politician – whatever their colours – could trust.

"Editing his copy was always a joy. It arrived on time. It required no correction. The right and proper news angle was always captured in his introduction. He never resorted to cheap sensationalism.

"There are many better known national journalists who will never achieve the hallmarks of professional quality that Peter did here in our wonderful city of Chichester which he loved so much."

Town clerk Rodney Duggua added: “I met Peter Homer in June 1978 when I started work at Chichester District Council. Up to then, my experiences of dealing with the local press had been rather limited, but I soon realised what a special and trusted person he was.

“There was never an ulterior motive with Peter's style of reporting, he reported the facts accurately, without sensationalism, presenting both sides of the coin fairly and squarely.

“His copy remains a model of everything good about local journalism.

“Peter's contribution to the life and work of the City was recognised by the award of a Civic Award by the City Council.

“We were always able to talk to each other in an open and professional manner about some of the peculiarities of Council business. His writing in the Chichester Observer about wine was also a topic of conversation!

“He was a straightforward, modest man with a keen eye for detail, an enquiring mind and a ready sense of humour. He was also a valued promoter of the work of the City Council.

“I am proud and honoured to have known and worked with him and will miss him both as a past colleague and someone I could truly call a good friend.”