Death of ex-Leamington Courier reporter

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A former Leamington Courier reporter who went on to join a travelling circus in America and later became an acclaimed Welsh poet has had his dying wish rejected.

Nigel Jenkins was a reporter in Leamington from 1968 until 1972 and joined journalism straight from school.

After leaving the Courier he travelled around the US for a short while before university.

He died in south Wales last month aged 64 after suffering pancreatic cancer.

The author, academic and broadcaster wanted to be laid to rest in the burial ground outside St Mary’s church, Pennard, where the family home was before the land was sold by his father to the parish council.

But the council said he did not qualify for burial because he was not living in the area.

And despite many pleas for the council to relent, including from the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan William, who knew Mr Jenkins, he was buried in the family grave within St Mary’s churchyard.

Ivor McGregor, aged 51, of Birmingham, said he first met Mr Jenkins aged six when his mother Yvonne, a Courier reporter, was romantically involved with him for a few years.

He said: “We lived in Dale Street and I remember him as a very, very warm person. He basically brought me up and he was a father figure to me. I’m a composer and he was a great influence on me. He bought me my first violin and introduced me to classical music.”

Mr McGregor said many were left angered by the council’s decision. “It’s quite disgraceful. A lot of people were offended. He had designed his own gravestone with a verse for it.

“His experience as a journalist in Leamington was very important and formative for him and he passed much of that knowledge onto his many devoted creative writing students at Swansea University.”

Former Courier reporter Richard Yates said: “He was a great wordsmith and loved the English language. It’s a great loss – he was very talented.”