Well-known Huntingdonshire publisher and business champion dies

Reg was married to his wife, a former mayor of St Ives, Pru Pegram, for 69 years and she was beside

Reg was married to his wife, a former mayor of St Ives, Pru Pegram, for 69 years and she was beside him as always when the medal was presented by a representative from the Russian embassy. - Credit: Archant

Reg Pegram, the founder of the Town Crier group of newspapers, the first free newspapers in Cambridgeshire, died peacefully at his home in St Ives on November 23, aged 92 years.

A young Reg Pegram when he was a sailor on HMS Cambrian in the Arctic Convoys.

A young Reg Pegram when he was a sailor on HMS Cambrian in the Arctic Convoys. - Credit: Archant

Reg was a well-known and popular figure in the town where he based his publishing business, which he started in 1973 and which he sold in 1985 by which time, it was an influential newspaper with four editions covering Cambridge, Huntingdonshire, Fenland and Biggleswade.

When he first published the paper, it carried no editorial, but attracted readership solely through its advertising content, in particular the classified ‘small-ads’.

By the end of the 70s, the times were changing and as papers, including the Hunts Post and the Cambridge Evening News, started to provide free weekly newspapers, he moved with the times and employed an editorial team to include news coverage within his pages, transforming his free papers into free newspapers.

Before moving to St Ives to start the Town Crier Group, Reg ran a successful national leaflet and newspaper distribution business from Hertfordshire, the county of his birth.

He said he chose St Ives, Huntingdon and St Neots as the base for his new business because of the thriving nature of the area and potential for growth that he saw in Cambridgeshire.

Reg was an active member of the local business community, and a leading light of the St Ives Chamber of Commerce when it was a thriving base for the town’s business community. He organised a trades fair in the St Ives Corn Exchange in the 70s, encouraging local businesses to work together to promote the town and its businesses and services.

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He even brought celebrities to the town, most memorably, Clive Dunn who was a star of the new TV programme at that time – Dad’s Army – transporting him over the old river bridge in a small tank, delivering him to the corn exchange to open the event.

Reg was proud that his business was a family affair, with all three of his children and his wife, Pru working in it. He worked hard to extend that family feel to all of the people who worked for him – with the Town Crier Christmas party a great tradition that demonstrated Reg’s generosity and flair for sharing joy.

He sold the business in 1985, when he retired and spent his time with Pru on his boat on the River Great Ouse, or travelling across Europe in their motorhome.

Reg was modest about his war service. He was one of the youngest sailors to serve in the Arctic Convoys after joining the Royal Navy, aged 18, in 1943, making several journeys from Scapa Flow, in Scotland, to Archangel, in Russia, helping to protect the ships that were delivering vital supplies. He subsequently served in the southern seas and was present at the surrender of Singapore.

Reg was married to Pru for 72 years, and supported her as she became a key member of the town, serving on the town council and as mayor in 1986, as well as president of the women’s section of the British Legion, a governor of the St Ivo and Eastfield Schools, and many other local societies and causes.

Reg is survived by Pru, as well as his children, Roy Pegram, Cathy Milton, and Angela Curtis, his five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

His funeral will take place at The Fenland Crematorium, in March, at 1.30pm on Wednesday, December 13.