News broke yesterday of former Southwark News journalist Geoff Hill passing away aged just 52.
In a career spanning almost 30 years, Geoff was still heading up ITV News when he was suddenly diagnosed with leukaemia in 2017 and had been receiving treatment for the disease when he was admitted to hospital last week. He died on Thursday morning surrounded by his family.
We are proud to say that Geoff cut his teeth in journalism at the Southwark News and was one of our founding team of reporters when it moved from a photocopied sheet of paper, then called the Bermondsey News, to the weekly paper we know now.
He was the first to get to grips with a brand new dark room to process photographs for the Southwark News. The most basic of dark rooms, barely big enough to walk into, these were less digital days for our independent outfit and well before social media.
As a budding reporter in Bermondsey Geoff made life-long friends at the paper. He left Southwark going straight to London News Network, starting his long association with ITN.
In 1998 when the founder and editor of Southwark News Dave Clark suddenly died of cancer, Geoff with other former journalists helped to keep the paper going for a number of months. He would turn up at our Bermondsey office after finishing his shifts at ITV’s regional news programme London Tonight to edit the paper and always remained a friend and a supporter.
He first joined ITV News in 2000, where he stayed for seven years before going onto roles as Editor of Setanta Sports News, Director of Coverage at CNN, and Editor of Channel 5 News.
He returned to ITV News as Editor in 2013, overseeing coverage of major events including reporting the general elections of 2015 and 2017, the Scottish referendum, the EU referendum in 2016 and the election of Donald Trump as US president.
Temporarily stepping down from his role at ITV to focus on treatment, he returned as its Editor last year, but despite so much hope that he was recovering, he relapsed.
In July this year Geoff, alongside his two brother-in-laws Lee Roberts and Jordan Smith, won the support of his beloved Crystal Place football club and raised over £30,000 for charity Cure Leukaemia .
Lee and Jordan ran 460km in just 30 days through the streets of south London. They had come up with the idea of running the equivalent of Selhurst Park to Paris to support Geoff and the charity’s research into pioneering cell therapy.
In the appeal we featured in the News, when writing about his illness showed Geoff the same resilience and determination that made him such a successful journalist. In tributes from colleagues throughout his illustrious career his kind and giving nature and the huge support he has shown to so many is mentioned again and again.
As the editor of the Southwark News and joint owner with Chris Mullany, I know we owe an invaluable debt to Geoff, we will miss him so much. As a fifteen-year-old schoolboy going to the Southwark News office, then in Rotherhithe’s Hope Sufferance Wharf, in the hope of getting work experience, Geoff was the man I looked up to and wanted to be. He was an inspiration, supportive and a great laugh, a true gentleman and scholar to me.
A full tribute to Geoff will appear in our paper from those who worked with him in those early years.
The Southwark News sends our deepest condolences to his entire family, his children Emily, Olivia and Alfie and his wife Nat.