BBC Radio Norfolk presenter John Mills died yesterday (2 March 2006) after a long battle against cancer.
John was a familiar voice on Radio Norfolk having presented a range of shows since the station first went on air in 1980.
He also presented programmes for BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service.
He will be best known as Norfolk’s consumer champion for his Midday with Mills programme.
John and his team, many of them CSV volunteers, built up a considerable reputation for solving consumer problems and explaining complex issues to Radio Norfolk’s audience.
John’s achievements were recognised nationally when he won the British Insurance Brokers Association Media Award (Journalist of the Year ? Broadcast) in 2000 for his work tackling listeners’ insurance problems.
His radio career began as a volunteer on the Gilbert and Ellis Islands in the Pacific, where chickens jumped through the radio studio window every morning.
On his return to the UK John joined the embryonic BBC Radio Blackburn in 1970.
In 1976 he moved to East Anglia, producing and reporting for the BBC East regional radio show Roundabout East Anglia.
In 1980 Radio Norfolk was born and John produced and presented a weekend current affairs phone-in show as well as presenting arts and discussion programmes for the station.
During this time he also became the regular presenter of Radio 4’s disability programme Does he take Sugar?
Juggling his local and network radio commitments proved difficult so John decided to leave Radio 4.
He soon started work at the World Service in addition to his shows on Radio Norfolk.
In 1992 he developed and presented a new early evening drivetime news programme for Radio Norfolk before starting his weekday Midday with Mills consumer programme in 1995.
David Clayton, Editor, Radio Norfolk, said today: “The Radio Norfolk team is like a big family and we feel like we’ve lost a great friend as well as a colleague.
“I’ve worked with John from the very beginning at Radio Norfolk and in all that time he was utterly charming and professional.
“On the phone he was sometimes known as Mr Angry because he revelled in getting to the bottom of a difficult issue, but he also enjoyed the fun side of radio and loved every bit of it.
“We will miss him greatly.”
Tim Bishop, Head of Regional and Local Programmes, BBC East, said: “Off air John was a totally charming, scrupulously polite and a truly old fashioned gentleman but on air he was an incisive questioner and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have on my side if I had a problem.
“Equally I can’t think of anyone I’d want to face less if I had something to hide or be ashamed of.”
Tim adds: “When I joined Radio Norfolk he was presenting the drivetime news and he went on to help create the midday programme which helped pioneer consumer and action desk programming on local radio.
“It was a natural home for him. For over ten years he harried and hounded anyone and everyone who set out to cheat the people of his adopted county.
“His preparation was as impeccable as his professionalism and demeanour, and he built the skills of a production and volunteer team that made the programme a champion of the rights of the listeners.”
John, who was 59, is survived by his wife, three children and three grandchildren.
A book of condolences to celebrate John’s life will be available to sign in the BBC Norwich reception at The Forum in Norwich from later this afternoon.
An online book of condolences will also be published for people to post and share their memories, comments and stories at bbc.co.uk/norfolk.