Times and Reporter obituary - Neville Keithley

PUBLISHED: 18:15 12 August 2009 | UPDATED: 10:57 23 August 2010

KENTISH Times series staff were saddened this week to learn of the death of former General Manager, Neville Keithley. Nev as he was known to friends and colleagues was based at our Sidcup office from 1999 until March 2002. He died aged 47 shortly

KENTISH Times series staff were saddened this week to learn of the death of former General Manager, Neville Keithley.

'Nev' as he was known to friends and colleagues was based at our Sidcup office from 1999 until March 2002.

He died aged 47 shortly after discovering he had terminal cancer. He leaves a wife Angela and two daughters, Daniella and Gina.

During his time with Kentish Times Newspapers, 'Nev' - a proud Sunderland lad born and bred - became a popular and well respected member of the local business community. He had joined the company from Newsquest Sussex where he had held the post of group advertising manager.

When he joined the Kentish Times series the titles were owned by Indepdendent News and Media. They were bought by Archant in 2004.

One of Nev's last jobs as General Manager was to open the Gravesend Reporter office in Milton Road in 2002 with the former MP, Chris Pond.

After leaving the Kentish Times series he was offered a managing director's post at Archant's Scotland headquarters where he successfully ran a series of weekly newspapers, websites and magazines until 2007 when the company sold off its' Scottish branch to Johnston Press.

'Nev' then appeared in The Daily Telegraph and on BBC TV advertising himself as a managing director looking for a job during a recession.

His former PA at the Kentish Times series' Margaret Cutler said: "Nev was a great person to know. He had a wonderful sense of humour and knew a great deal about the publishing industry. We achieved alot together at the Kentish Times and I will never forget him."

One of his greatest friends and colleagues, ArchantLondon Publishing Director, John Hooker, had known Neville for twelve years. Mr Hooker said he had only spoken to his pal two weeks ago before he went on holiday.

"We had all gone out for a curry and a laugh following the Sunderland and West Ham game in May. He was in fine form and as forthright about everything as ever. He told me he had had a few pains here and there and was going to get them checked out. Shortly after this he called me to tell me he had been given four months to live. We had a big talk about being positive and he said he was glad to have the opportunity to put his affairs in order. We agreed to meet again soon for a meal and a chat. On returning from my holiday on Saturday, August 8, I got a call from his wife Angela to say he had died. It is a terrible shock to know he has gone.

"I'll remember him as a big man in all respects. He was a positive thinker and he remained positive to the end. His greatest ambition was to be a managing director and he achieved that in Scotland much to his credit. He knew what it took to be a success. He was so determined to do what was necessary to achieve success that he used to fly to Scotland on a Monday morning, stay there for the week, then fly back at the weekend. He was also very devoted to his family. He was determined his daughters would have a good start in life and wanted the absolute best for them. I also have happy memories of going to football matches with him - especially when his team Sunderland played West Ham.

"When Nev advertised himself in The Daily Telegraph as a managing director looking for a job it was a great example of his innovative approach to life. His death comes as a deep shock to me."

Group Editor Melody Foreman said: "Neville always took a keen interest in the editorial department and was always encouraging and supportive when I was first appointed as group editor. He always had a smile and a joke to deflate any fears or potential problems that lay ahead. Nev also told me he had great faith in me and I will never forget that.

"He had a unique philosophy on life which expanded and changed intelligently with the ebb and flow of the business. I still can't believe he has gone. He was such a big character, so full of aspiration and always so approachable."

Kentish Times series group advertisement manager Jacqui Henderson said: "With his anecdotes of deep fried Mars bars and tales of the Black Cats and Mackems, Nev, as we would affectionately call him, would always generate a smile.

"He also had a more serious side and believed passionately in our industry and in self development. The legacy Nev left me before he moved onto pastures new was one phrase that sticks in my mind which is 'if it's to be - it's up to me' and whether you relate this to personal or professional life it shows that to some degree we do have control over our destiny.

"It was a pleasure and a privilege to work with Nev, and if I was asked to describe him it would be thus 'an aspiring Rupert Murdoch with a heart as big as a lion'."

Kentish Times' publishing director Paul Gregory expressed his condolences to Neville's family and friends. He said: "As part of Archant's management team I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Neville."

A date for the funeral has yet to be announced.

Melody Foreman

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