Jo Silcox: Tributes to ‘formidable’ former Salisbury Journal reporter

Tributes have been paid to former Journal journalist and renowned court reporter Jo Silcox who has died aged 83 after a long illness.

The funeral of Salisbury-born Jo, who lived in Feock, Cornwall, took place at Penmount Crematorium after her death on Saturday, April 3.

Jo was born in Salisbury but moved to Cornwall 40 years ago.

She worked as a journalist on the Falmouth Packet before moving to the West Briton where she worked for many years.

She is survived and greatly missed by her devoted husband David.

Salisbury training and Cornwall move

In 2018 she published a book which charted her career as a journalist, after finally laying down her pen and notebook for the last time in 2017, her 80th year.

She started her working life as a newspaper reporter, working as a teenager in Salisbury, where she trained under her uncle and former Fleet Street reporter Pat Williams, who was then chief reporter of The Salisbury Times.

After working for 25 years in Salisbury, where she ended as chief reporter for the Salisbury Times & Journal, she moved to Cornwall in 1980.

She started work for the Packet, as chief reporter for Camborne-Redruth, and four years later moved to The West Briton in Truro, where she worked for 12 years before being made redundant.

She then worked as a freelance for a while and then began to cover magistrates’ courts, firstly for the Packet, at Camborne, and later for the Briton as well.

When Camborne court closed she moved to Truro Court, working for both papers for just under 20 years, when she then decided to retire.

‘Old school journalist’

Senior reporter at the Packet Paul Armstrong said: “I knew Jo Wilcox for over 20 years since I first arrived in Cornwall as a reporter.

“She was an old school journalist in the truest sense of the word.

“She could be quite formidable when she wanted to be, but she was a lovely lady.

“She was a great help to me when I first started covering magistrates court and later I always enjoyed my weekly conversations with her about the latest court cases she had attended, but lo and behold if we were late paying her invoices!

“Jo was a weekly fixture at Truro magistrates’ court and was respected by everybody there.

“If there was an interesting case happening you could guarantee she’d know about it.

“A sad loss.”

‘Margaret Thatcher of the newsroom’

Also paying tribute, Lee Trewhela, chief reporter from the West Briton and Cornwall Live, said: “After two years on another local paper, it felt like I’d arrived when I joined The West Briton, the ‘big boy’ of the regional press in the early 1990s.

“The paper had an enormous circulation and an even bigger reputation in the community as the best source of local news in the area.

“One of the major reasons for that success was down to Jo Silcox, who I was incredibly sad to hear has passed away.

“An experienced no-nonsense journalist. Jo took me under wing when I joined in 1993 and was a never-ending source of advice, wisdom and quips.

“She would tackle any story with verve and doggedness, as well as great humour when it was appropriate.

“Jo told it like it was and could be unerringly direct and to the point, but you knew exactly where you stood with her.

“I always thought of Jo as the Margaret Thatcher of the Cornish newsroom – I’m not sure what she would make of that analogy, but she had a similar tenacity and ability to make otherwise powerful men quake.

“Always good traits to have as a reporter.”

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