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When Peter Preston had to dive for cover | Letters

Journalists and readers reflect on their dealings with former Guardian editor Peter Preston, who died on Saturday

Your obituary of Peter Preston (8 January) highlights his courage and his defiance of the disabilities caused by his childhood polio. I met him in 1965 in Rawalpindi, where we were covering a short war between Pakistan and India (he for the Guardian, I for the Sun). To get close to the frontline, reporters were piled into two Jeeps travelling with a column of Pakistani troops. From time to time the column was strafed by Indian fighter jets. When we saw them coming we had to climb out of the Jeeps and take refuge in dry ditches alongside the road. This was obviously more difficult for him than for the rest of us, but he managed without fuss and never sought to excuse himself from such demanding expeditions, which he saw as all part of the job.
Michael Leapman

• It was with great sadness that I heard of Peter Preston’s death. When I launched the Canarian News in the 1980s Peter kindly sent a letter for our empty letters page encouraging a new publication. Later he arranged for a transcript of Peter Wright’s Spycatcher to be delivered by a very slow Telex to help us publish extracts while the Guardian fought its own legal battles in the UK. In Madrid and Budapest he continued to support with letters of encouragement, in the latter case as we published in eastern Europe during a febrile time for publishers and journalists. Finally, back in the UK when we launched local community newspapers he sent a note of encouragement extolling “local, local, local news”. A true champion of newspapers and a mentor for those of us just setting off in the business.
Kevin Hall

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