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MEMORIES OF DAVID SOMMERLAD AM

13/August/2021

Arthur Bradley

The death of David Sommerlad has removed a link with country newspapers, which went back generations, from the time when the local rag was all powerful, and through the years as its role was influenced and challenged.

For Country Press true believers that role is still significant but has to meet challenges today that had not even been thought of in the early days.

Throughout all this change to the country media landscape, the Sommerlad family and, in particular David, have been to the forefront.

David, from his time in the family newspaper interests in the New England, to the important step he took in leading country press in New South Wales, and indeed Australia, as an administrator, stepped in to help when the association needed it.

For many of us, he had no peer, and to all he conducted his role with the firm conviction of a journalist of the old school to whom facts and accuracy were always paramount.

The Sommerlad family – David in particular, and the Bradley families have been associates and friends for generations. I was grateful for his guidance during my term as CPNSW president and, as a member of the executive for many years, looked upon him as mentor, whose experience I valued and appreciated.

David had a plan – to record the history of the Country Press Association of New South Wales, but it did not eventuate. Failing health meant he could not do justice to the amazing collection of Association memorabilia he accumulated in his garage, as the membership faltered from over 120 to just 14 members under the abandonment of it by Fairfax interests.

It was a sad and nostalgic day when half a dozen executive councillors, many of them life members, gathered at David’s home in Castle Hill to help go through and sort the valuable items from clutter.

For most of us, it was the last time we would see David and it is sad to recall him not at his best. It was also sad to realise that much of the history of the association was going to be lost along with memories a great many hold dear.

From a personal perspective, I had considerable respect for David – he possessed qualities I greatly admired. Through our long association, I considered both him and Joan friends to whom one would gravitate at the many conferences over many years and in many states.

While David had been away from NSW Country Press matters for some years, his influence was of most significance in its history. Often serious but with a humorous side, which shone at many a conference, we miss him and still enjoy reflecting on those days.

Our thoughts are with Joan and his family.

Arthur and Pam Bradley

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