It is with great sadness that we have just heard of the death in Turkey earlier this week of our friend, fellow journalist and Press Club Brussels member Tony Mallett.
I had known Tony for less time than most of you, but remember his good humour and good company, and his professionalism as a journalist and editor.
He persuaded me to set up “Brussels in View” and was its first editor / beer taster in chief, both roles in which he excelled!
Here are some of the contributions I have received today in answer to my request to friends of Tony for memories of him:
Tony’s good friend, James Drew, production editor at EU Reporter, said, “I knew Tony for 24 years, since he was the first editor of my journalistic career at The York and District Advertiser in 1996. He went over to Belgium first, then I followed him to Brussels, to work at European Voice as a sub-editor in 2001 under the excellent editor Dennis Abbott. Tony joined EV as production editor in 2002, and we worked very happily together until 2004, when I left to work for The Bulletin.
“Tony taught me a great deal about my chosen profession, about nailing the story, about the importance of professionalism and guarding your sources with your life. His work at EV won him much deserved praise from Dennis, and he was always a pleasure to work with. He was also a great friend, and I will miss him very much.”
Peter Chapman, a former colleague at European Voice, said, “I was terribly sorry to hear this news. I knew he didn’t look well but was unaware of his cancer. I really liked him. He was just a lovely man with very little ego and a lot of talent. They don’t make many like him any more do they?”
David Cronin, another ex-EV colleague, said, “I hadn’t seen Tony in a long time but this is very sad news. Tony and I were colleagues in European Voice for a few years. Life was never dull with Tony in the newsroom. He was always cracking jokes and coming up with witty headlines. Tony was extremely affable but he wasn’t one to mince his words. My strongest memory of him was the time he stood up to one of his ‘superiors’ who was making life miserable for everyone. Tony’s expletive-laden outburst on that occasion had an almost poetic quality.I know that his colleagues appreciated it.”
Martin Banks who, like Tony, hails from the North West of England, said, “It may be a cliché but, no, they do not make them like Tony anymore and more’s the pity. I very much enjoyed working with Tony for a few years at EV and then, later, in a freelance capacity. He was always helpful, informative, well informed about things, non judgemental – and did all this with a laugh and a joke.
“I wish there were more folk like Tony around because the world would be a richer place for it. He was a big Manchester United fan and, as a Leeds United nut myself, our choice of football teams was just about the only where we differed. I am sure Tony will be watching down and hoping his beloved Reds can get back to their former glories. My message to the Red Devils is: Do it for Tony!”
Dennis Abbott, former editor at European Voice (2001-2004), said, “I took on Tony as production editor at European Voice in January 2002. He’d previously worked at The Bulletin in Brussels, and before that at the York Press and York Advertiser. He was a first-rate journalist with excellent drafting skills. I valued his professionalism, his easygoing approach and sense of humour. I knew that I could always rely on him to get the job done – no matter how late we went to press. When he wasn’t in the newsroom, Tony was often to be found sharing stories over a glass or three in Place Luxembourg.
“After EV, he launched his own magazine, Up Front, and, among other roles, edited Around Brussels in 30 Days and Around the EU in 30 Days. One of the things I remember most about Tony is the knowing glint in his eye. A keen traveller, he’d been there, done it and got the T-shirt several times over. His effervescent character made him a magnet for women, but none could tame him. it’s so sad that he’s left us at the age of 58.”
Tony was always so much fun to work with. After chuckling at my Americanisms he’d always ensure as EV’s dedicated production editor that all the right edits were made and deadlines were met.
We also became quite close outside of work and were romantically involved for a few years until I left Brussels in 2006. We spent many fun weekends together, including on a trip to Germany and just relaxing at his flat, where we read novels and watched movies together and Tony cooked us fabulous English breakfasts.
Although I had not seen him since I left Brussels, we kept in touch again in recent years via social media and were just recently playing an ongoing game of online Scrabble together. Forever the great wordsmith, Tony usually beat me but I sometimes managed to win a match. I was glad to see his dispatches from his new home in Turkey, where he seemed quite content. But I was unaware he had fallen ill. The news of his passing hit me like a ton of bricks. I was devastated and crying while also smiling – at times – as I recalled my fondest memories of him.
A part of me will always be in love with Tony Mallett. He really was one in a million. He was a charming and witty man who loved women, but never sought to control or manipulate them. He was pure of heart and was just a joy to be around. Many women loved him in his lifetime. I was one of them.
Tony is being buried in Turkey this Thursday – 9th July – at 11h (that is 10h Brussels time).
I am sure we will all think of him and miss him greatly.