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Obituary: Lionel Walsh

Lionel Walsh (photo), one of the most distinguished foreign correspondents of his generation, died on Tuesday in his native Yorkshire aged 89.

He joined Reuters in 1956 and stayed until 1972 when he moved to the BBC, but returned to Reuters for a second stint until 1981. In the early 1970s he was the first economic affairs editor for Reuters general news service.

President John F. Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in Berlin and the Israeli trial of Nazi fugitive Adolf Eichmann were among the stories he covered.

After a career that had taken him from London to Bonn, Geneva, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Warsaw, he joined the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris to build a new press and public relations department as director of public information.

In 1983 he was appointed head of the press department of the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

The young Walsh, ex-national serviceman, amateur boxer and artist, began his career in journalism as a walk-in recruit at the Harrogate Advertiser, deciding on the spot not to join his father’s photographic business.

It was not the first time a newspaper played a significant role in his life. In his online memoirs, Lionel Walsh: My Life and Times, Walsh described how at the age of two he won a nationwide competition organised by the Sunday Dispatch to find “The Bonniest Baby in Britain”, thanks to a photograph sent in by his father. The prize money helped his parents send him to Sedbergh public school.

“My first and perhaps greatest triumph!” he wrote.

Half-paralysed by a stroke in 2004, Walsh was wheelchair-bound.

He retired first to central France and in 2009 moved back to Sheffield to be nearer his son and daughter, Terry and Theresa. ■