THE COLDEST DOORSTEP..L TO R RICHARD LAPPAS, VERNON MANN (ITN) TONY FREEMAN(WTV) MATT FORD, THE LATE BOB BARCLAY, THE LATE HAYDEN JONES, BARRY BACHELOR(PA) GEORGE PHILLIPS(MIRROR) & COLIN ROE (BBC SPOTLIGHT) OUTSDIE CMTC LYMPSTONE, DEVON WAITING FOR PRINCE EDWARD TO DEPART AFTER QUITTING THE ROYAL MARINES!

The Longest Doorstep by Richard Lappas

A few days into the new year and the grapevine was awash with rumours that Prince Edward was on the verge of quitting the Royal Marines despite the fact that according to his commanding officer, was fully expected to complete the training course and attain the coveted green beret.

As the phones started to jangle (unusual for the first week of January always quiet) it quickly started to look like a visit to Lympstone would be on the cards and it was likely to be pretty chippy as we were in the middle of winter!

Colleagues district staff reporters & photographers and the like, all based in Bristol, were soon en route to East Devon where unbeknown to all, we would be spending thee best part of a fortnight waiting for the obvious which was the announcement that with ‘great regret’ HRM Prince Edward would be leaving the Corps… trouble was that it took nearly two weeks to announce and we spent, on a round the clock basis, ie 24 hours on the main gate at Lympstone CMTC for a total of ELEVEN days and ELEVEN nights doorstepping, waiting for the Prince to depart and when he did around mid morning in mid-January, he came out flanked by Royal Protection Squad who were armed to the hilt and the driver steered onto the pavement in order to stop any images from the nearside and at the same time be far enough away from the far side for that to happen.

No footage was obtained and the only one still out of maybe 20 photographers… all the honours on this occasion go to Mirror Supremo George Phillips for using all of his many years of experience and scooping everyone but such was the demeanour of one of the nicest people you will ever meet, George knew everyone would be in the kennel(dog house!) that he chose to share the neg and thru agency (me) everyone got a very grainy, muzzy, murky picture that required the leitz enlarger to be swung round to face the floor and for the tiny 3 inch square print to be exposed with the photographic paper actually on the floor!

At least it wouldn’t take long to wire!!! The image we think was taken by Graham Flack, then a staffer with my rival agency Devon News and although its in my archive neg wise, it cant be me who took it as I’m in the picture on the left hand side!

Moral of the story… Take 2 of everything tho in today’s coverage I suspect there are a fair few who dont even know what a doorstep actually means! And so ended the coldest, longest doorstep in the west country… even know when it gets mentioned at the quarterly lunch in Bristol everybody goes Brrrrr!!!

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