My Mentor: Emma Soames on Jeremy Deedes

'I was a babe in the wood, and would have been torn limb from limb without Jeremy'

I met Jeremy Deedes in 1973 when I was given my first Fleet Street job as a reporter on the
Evening Standard's Londoner's Diary. I had not come up through the traditional route of regional newspapers because I had been working on
Vogue, and girls who hadn't served their time in the provinces were regarded with a certain amount of disdain. So I the one token female reporter, and I would have been torn limb from limb had it not been for Jeremy.

I met Jeremy Deedes in 1973 when I was given my first Fleet Street job as a reporter on the Evening Standard's Londoner's Diary. I had not come up through the traditional route of regional newspapers because I had been working on Vogue, and girls who hadn't served their time in the provinces were regarded with a certain amount of disdain. So I the one token female reporter, and I would have been torn limb from limb had it not been for Jeremy.

Fleet Street was a tough old place in those days, with a degree of bad behaviour and a bullying atmosphere. Jeremy was probably more protective than I ever knew and the fact that I didn't get scared off newspapers is something I owe to him.

My first impressions of him were rather like my last ones: extremely dapper and rather funny. He had a way of making a joke out of everything. My timekeeping wasn't all it could be and he said they were going to draw a line down the middle of the hallway, so that "Soames arriving late could bump into Soames leaving early". Another time I got back late from a Private Eye lunch to find a note on my desk saying: "These long lunches are bad for your health," signed by "The Doctor".

Everybody develops their own style of leadership, but I think the most important values Jeremy taught me were that you don't have to scream to get results.

I was on the diary for more than five years, by which time Jeremy had moved on, but I came across him again when I ended up ending up editing the Telegraph Saturday magazine. As at the Standard, he helped me find my way, and stopped me from making one or two rather bad mistakes. But more than that he was consistently friendly.

Extremely professional and never foul to his staff, Jeremy had a way to get the best out of people without making their lives a total nightmare, and made me realise this is important and possible.

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