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Terry O'Gorman, former RAC Editor, dies aged 86

Editor of RAC for over 30 years cemented the reputation of the magazine as the leading title for the industry

Terry O’Gorman, editor of RAC from 1964-89 and commercial editor from 1989-96, has died at the age of 86.

After earning his journalistic spurs on of all things Melody Maker, then moving to British Baker, Mr O’Gorman became editor of the forerunner to RAC magazine in 1964 and oversaw the title for three decades. He handed over the editor’s reins to Andrew Bailey in 1989, although he remained on the magazine in the role of commercial editor for a further seven years before he retired officially in 1996.

During his tenure as editor, Mr O’Gorman oversaw a number of initiatives, among which the most memorable were introduction of hosted reader trips to international exhibitions such as Ashrae and IKK.

At their peak, up to 100 readers from across the cooling industry would be escorted to the shows.

The fun, of course, was all being in the same hotel, remembers Andrew Bailey. “It was brilliant both professionally and socially, and many relationships - and even marriages - were forged on those Reader Trips. Terry and I used to take it in turns to be the RAC rep, so I didn’t really see him in action much. The stories of Terry’s exploits, however, became legendary.”

One of the things colleagues remembered about him was his can-do attitude:

Ewen Rose, now BESA’s Press Officer, who worked on RAC’s sister magazine H&V News, said: “I remember in the early days of working with computers we had a power cut. All of us youngsters were looking at each other wondering what we could do without power, when we heard a loud tapping noise. It was Terry, who had fished out his old manual typewriter and had determined to carry on getting the magazine published, power or no power.”

Terry’s fellow editor on H&V News Jack McDavid has fond memories too: “When I joined in 1987, Terry was already an industry legend…My predecessor as H&V editor, Oliver McGeachy, introduced us with the words: “This is Terry O’Gorman; we’ve been all round the world together.”

Over the next eight years, Terry and Jack did their best to repeat the exercise, visiting companies and conferences from Tokyo to Torremolinos and from Florence to San Francisco. “Terry was famous for having notched up five countries in four days on one expedition - pretty good going for a man who was allegedly scared of flying,” says Mr McDavid, “What I remember most, though, was that, wherever we went, Terry knew and was known by a vast variety of industry luminaries. And although, quite often, he was hard put to recall their names, he was equally expert at bluffing his way through, so that they never suspected.”

But naturally the colleague who knew him best was the ‘lad’ he took on, Andrew Bailey, who ultimately succeed him as RAC editor.

Mr Bailey says: I worked with Terry on RAC for more than 20 years. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Terry was a brilliant journalist and a great ambassador for RAC. But mainly he was a great guy. He taught me a lot about the industry, journalism and life.

He continues: “Terry was loved and admired by his many colleagues and friends. It has been one of those quirks of fate that we lived in the same towns for many years – East Grinstead, where I followed him to, and then Eastbourne, again where I followed him to. We became friends outside work. I have happy memories of a picnic with Terry on the seafront last year, as we watched Eastbourne’s spectacular airshow.

And, Mr Bailey notes, Terry was irrepressible to the end: “Jack McDavid and I visited Terry in hospital a few days before he died. He was still the same old Terry, and at one point he even burst into song.”

Mr McDavid sums up the O’Gorman legacy: “When he finally hung up his pen and notebook, during which process he enjoyed more farewells than Frank Sinatra, there was much speculation as to who would take his place in terms of industry knowledge, profile and esteem. With all due respect to his (and my) successors. I think that the decade-and-a-half that has passed since then has provided the answer. No-one.”

That is a conclusion Andrew Bailey and I are happy to agree on. 

Terry was well-known to many in industry and fellow editor Neil Everett over on Cooling Post has written about many of those encountered in his interview. At times like these we can put rivalries aside and remember a great legacy.

  • Terry’s funeral is on Monday 1 July, 11.30 at Eastbourne crematorium, Hide Hollow, BN23 8AE. A wake will follow at the Farm pub, Friday street, Langney, Eastbourne BN23 8AP.  Family flowers only please. Donations can made to Dementia UK or Cancer Research UK, via Hailsham Funeral Services. His family have said: “For those wishing to honour dad with the appropriate colours please wear blue and white.” 

 

terry o'gorman 1996

The photo shows Terry in 1996, with colleagues including a callow young Editor, Andrew Bailey on the right.

 

 

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