A RETIRED journalist who spent more than half a century covering Romsey and the New Forest has died aged 90 after a short illness.

Alan Wiltshire, who worked for the Daily Echo and the Romsey Advertiser, continued to write articles until a few weeks before his 80th birthday.

He joined the Echo in 1946 and stayed with the paper until 1976, having opened the Hythe office in the 1950s.

After a brief foray into teaching he returned to journalism. He joined the Romsey Advertiser in 1983, working there full-time - and later part-time - for many years.

One of the biggest stories he covered for the Echo was the arrival of evacuees from Tristan da Cuna in 1961.

Daily Echo:

More than 260 people were forced to flee after the volcano which dominates the tiny South Atlantic island began to erupt. They arrived in the UK aboard the Southampton-based Stirling Castle and were housed at Calshot, where one of the streets is still called Tristan Close.

In 1967 Mr Wiltshire greeted round-the-world sailor Sir Francis Chichester when he returned to Buckler's Hard after completing his 30,000-mile voyage.

A few years later the journalist attended a topping out ceremony held to mark the completion of the 650ft chimney at Fawley power station.

He also had the sad task of covering a fire which ripped through Holbury Manor, which had been his parents' home until shortly before the blaze.

Towards the end of his career he often visited the now defunct New Forest magistrates' court in Lyndhurst to cover cases with a Romsey or Test Valley connection.

Daily Echo:

Mr Wiltshire was a keen cricketer who played for Hythe and Dibden for more than 30 years.

A statement on the club's website says: "When staff in his office couldn't find him they knew he'd be down watering the square - such was his commitment.

"Sadly in the early nineties Alan decided to move out of the village and his 31-year association with Hythe was over. A massive blow for the club."

In a statement Mr Wiltshire's family said: "Alan remained active and alert until the last year of his life, cycling everywhere well into his 80s and only stopping when his eyesight started to fade.

"He married Eileen in 1954 and they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in 2019, although she sadly passed away soon after.

"His final weeks were spent in Dunwood Manor nursing home, where he celebrated his 90th birthday with his family."