FORMER Andover Advertiser editor Cyril Berry died peacefully in Spain last week at the age of 84.

Mr Berry was educated at Andover Grammar School and joined the Andover Advertiser on leaving school. When the Second World War broke out he twice volunteered, first for the Royal Navy and then for the Army, but was rejected because of poor eyesight.

But in 1940 he was called up and posted to the Pioneer Corps, Now Royal Pioneer Corps, and was commissioned into the Hampshire Regiment in 1941.

He saw service in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland before being seconded to the King's African Rifles (KAR).

After a short spell in Africa, during which time he learned fluent Swahili, he was posted to one of KAR's regular battalions. He spent nearly a year in the Kabaw Valley in Burma and was with the 5th (Kenya) KAR when the division withdrew, its mission accomplished.

On demob he returned to journalism as a district reporter with the Southern Evening Echo, but in 1949 he was invited to return to the Andover Advertiser as editor.

Mr Berry edited the paper for 18 years, retiring in 1967. He also wrote and published Old Andover, a pictorial record of Victorian Andover.

In the immediate post-war years he took up winemaking as a hobby and in 1954 played a principal part in founding the Andover Winemakers Circle, the first in this country and the world.

The idea caught on until there were 1,500 such clubs in the UK and others worldwide. The growth was encouraged by his hobby magazine, The Amateur Winemaker, which was published in Andover.

Mr Berry was also author of First Steps in Winemaking, which has sold more than three million copies, and is the most popular primer on the subject.

He also wrote several books on allied subjects, notably Homed Brewed Beers and Stouts and Winemaking from Canned and Dried Fruits. After his retirement as editor he concentrated on publishing as Amateur Winemaking Publications Ltd.

He and his wife Peggy, built up the business until it was producing the monthly magazine selling some 45,000 copies, a trade paper and about 45 paperback titles.

In the 1950s they bought the Standard Press Ltd in South Street and then printed several magazines as well as providing general printing for customers. Both firms were sold on retirement in 1984.

For some years Mr Berry was a member of the old Andover Borough Council and was mayor in 1972-73.

He was a member of Andover Rotary Club from 1949, becoming president in 1949, and he was made a Paul Harris Fellow in 1997. He was also Past Master of St Aubert Lodge of Freemasons.

During the last few years he spent winter in Spain and summer in England. His hobbies were sailing and painting.

He and his wife celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in 2000. He also leaves two daughters.