Malcolm Richards, editor of the Richmond and Twickenham Times group of newspapers for 27 years until his retirement in 2003, died on Friday. He was 70 years old.

Mr Richards was the country’s longest serving editor and only the fifth editor of the paper, which was founded in 1873 and was owned by the Dimbleby family for more than 125 years.

A passionate environmentalist and conservationist, he ran a successful campaign in the 70s to preserve the Victorian Coronet Theatre in Notting Hill Gate which was threatened with replacement by an office block.

He later succeeded in getting the Edwardian Chiswick Tram Power House listed.

Mr Richards' devotion to the community was encapsulated in his often quoted phrase, “despiseth not the day of small things”.

He championed the Richmond May Fair, founded by Sylvia Oates in the early 1970s, and was instrumental in the equally successful Richmond Drama Awards.

David Dimbleby paid tribute to Mr Richards saying: "Editing a local newspaper demands a commitment to a place and its communities, an untiring curiosity, a fascination with all kinds of people and their stories, and the courage to tell those stories without fear or favour.

"A good editor has to be embedded in the community he serves and yet remain objective enough to observe and comment on it.

"All these qualities Malcolm had and more. He was modest about his own talents, never flaunting the powerful position he held but proud of what he did and absolutely convinced of its value."

Born in Somerset, he wanted to be in the theatre from childhood and came into journalism as a second choice.

At one time he edited 10 newspapers in the group covering the boroughs of Richmond upon Thames, Hounslow, Kingston, Wandsworth and Merton.

He retained a passion for musical theatre, politics, architecture, tennis and people.

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