Internet re-unites newspaper colleagues
9:40am Thursday 29th May 2014 in News
A FORMER Barry & District News reporter has been reunited with her colleague after 66 years - after his wife took to social media.
82-year-old Morfa Booker, now Birkhead, who as a trainee in Barry witnessed a murder trial judge don the black cap and sentence a woman to death, later reprieved, for killing her husband, met up with 87-year-old Howard Green in North Wales where Morfa now lives.
Howard Green and Morfa Booker were both born in Barry and trained as journalists on the newspaper before going their separate ways.
They lost touch until Howard's wife June tracked Morfa down.
Howard, who now lives in Surrey, joined the paper from St Helen's school in 1941 and worked there until he was called up in 1944.
He returned from National Service in 1947 he went back to his old job on the paper, where Morfa was then a trainee reporter.
Howard, formerly of Everard Street, stayed at the Barry and District News for a year and then moved to the South Wales Echo.
He stayed in newspapers, joining the Thomson organisation and rising through the ranks to launch a new evening newspaper in Reading in 1965 and becoming managing director of the Western Mail and Echo in Cardiff.
When he retired he was managing director of a series of newspapers in Essex.
Morfa, who lived in Merthyr Street, joined the paper as a trainee reporter from Holton Road School. She completed her five-year apprenticeship in 1952, but then decided on a career change and enrolled at Barry College and trained to become a teacher.
Morfa said: "If I'd stayed in newspapers I'd have had to become a specialist in women's and children's articles, and I didn't want to do that. There weren't many women news reporters in those days you got shunted off into women's features."
Morfa's teaching career took her to Sheffield where she met and married her husband, Peter Birkhead, in 1954.
Her last teaching post before her retirement was as deputy head of a school in Colwyn Bay, where she and Peter now live. They have two sons.
Their reunion after two-thirds of a century took place at a hotel in Betwys-y-Coed, where Howard and June - who is also a retired journalist - were on a week's holiday.
Howard said: "I was telling June about my days on the Barry and District News and the people I worked with and I wondered what had happened to Morfa. The next thing June was on the internet and within a couple of days she had tracked Morfa down.
"When we arranged to go on holiday to North Wales it was an ideal opportunity for us to meet up. It was wonderful seeing Morfa again after all those years, and sharing memories of our days on the Barry & District News. They were the happiest days of my career in newspapers."
Howard and his late wife Audrey had two children - their son Damian is MP for Ashford, Kent, and Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice.
Daughter Helen is chief executive of the Catholic Social Aid Network, an umbrella organisation for Catholic charities.