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A tribute to John Richard Rowley

John Rowley - June 1931 to February 2023

John Rowley was an eminent journalist working for many years in the news industry. After studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, he secured a job as a journalist for the Kentish Express in 1953, where he remained for three years.

Born in 1931, he had a varied and successful career in the world of journalism. From those early beginnings of the Kentish Express as a junior reporter, he moved onto Reuters and from there to numerous newspapers, including the Daily Herald where he became their foreign correspondent covering the Cyprus troubles during the late fifties.

On his return to London, he took a post as Deputy Foreign News Editor for the News Chronicle and from there moved to The Times.

As his career progressed, he moved onwards and upwards to the Western Mail, the national newspaper of Wales where he managed an editorial staff of 80 and was responsible for features, foreign news, editorial policy, specialist writers and training.

In 1973, at the age of 42, Rowley was persuaded by Andrew Patrick Crosse, a highly successful journalist also formerly with Reuters, to give up his successful career in Fleet Street and produce quality publications to communicate the importance of environmental charities. Crosse’s sale pitch to Rowley had been: “Why don’t you take a swing through Asia? Find out what’s going on. And why not take a photographer with you?”

Rowley rose to the challenge, teamed up with Mark Edwards, an environmental photographer and together they made many trips across the developing world.

His career in this field developed and during the late seventies, Rowley was publishing a quarterly journal entitled People, which was published in three languages and had a circulation of 25,000. People and its supplements, Earthwatch and AIDSWatch, pioneered coverage of population, development and related environmental issues.

It won a number of international media awards and in 1992, People and its supplements merged to form a new publication, People & The Planet. This publication was launched at the Earth Summit in Rio and published in conjunction with IPPF, The World Conservation Union, the UN Population Fund and Rowley’s own charity Planet 21, which he founded as a UN recognised non profit organisation.

Planet 21 ran for over twenty years but was dissolved in March 2014, two years after Rowley decided to ‘hang up his hat' and retire from editing.

Rowley was involved with many organisations during his life. He was a visiting lecturer at Oxford University, a guest speaker at the World Federation of Women Journalists and he sat on the Commonwealth Magazine editorial board.

He was a member of various professional bodies including the Foreign Press Association, The Royal Geographical Society and a founder member of the Development Journalists Group. He won a number of awards including the British National Press Award for articles on Africa and Europe.

His wish was to help aspiring journalists of the future and with that in mind, after his death in February 2023, his family made provisions for donations from his funeral to be given to the Young Reporter Scheme to be used to help those students get their ‘foot on the ladder’ of what he had found as an exciting and rewarding career in the media.

We are therefore, extremely grateful for the donation and would like to thank his family and friends for their thoughtful gift.

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