The former deputy editor of a regional daily who was a ‘massive force for good’ on her patch has died aged 64.
Tributes were paid to Hilary Scott, who served the Reading Post and its digital-only successor Get Reading for 15 years.
Hilary, pictured, was deputy editor at Reading between 2002 and 2014 following a four-decade career during which she also worked as a royal reporter for a number of national headlines
She lived with the effects of a degenerative lung disease for 12 months before her death on August 19.
Former Post editor Andy Murrill said: “Hilary was a hugely talented journalist and a fearless and powerful woman.
“I was lucky to have her as an assistant at the Reading Evening Post for 15 years and we’ve sat side by side all that time, sharing so many ups and downs – mostly ups, including the successful grassroots campaigns that we have defended and the national awards we have won.
“I am heartbroken that she is dead.
“Hilary was a massive force for good in Reading and will be remembered with great love by thousands here.
“She was also a fantastic mentor to our team, especially to the young female journalists who were inspired by her to be the best. I was lucky enough to know her for so long and to call her my dear friend.
Glasgow-born Hilary began her career in 1973 as a trainee journalist at the Dundee Courier before writing for the Daily Mail, Daily Express and News of the World from 1976.
She then worked as a royal reporter for various magazines, forging close ties with Buckingham and Kensington Palaces, before returning to local journalism in 1998 as editor of the Farnham Herald series.
Hilary joined the Post as an associate editor in 1999 before becoming associate editor three years later.
She has led campaigns including helping to raise £1.2million for state-of-the-art hospital surgery equipment dubbed ‘Robbie the Robot’, funding two incubators as part of the ‘Saving Tiny Lives’ campaign and ‘ Knives Cost Lives” which brought about a change in the knife crime law.
Hilary also organized the Pride of Reading Awards, now in their 18th year.
TV star Chris Tarrant, who hosts the awards, told ITV News: ‘She meant ‘look, there’s a lot of bad stuff written about Reading, a lot of bad press about Reading. But Reading produces really amazing people,” he said.
“And me, as a book boy, over the years would say ‘yeah, look at him, look at her, look at what she’s done. I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t be that awesome.
“And Hilary kind of taught me that. She said, ‘Look at these people. Look at the different entrants each year.
“We will of course continue with the pride of reading, because it is his legacy at Reading.
“But it’s a terrible tragic loss, and we’re all just gutted.”
Hilary was also an avid foodie, founding the award-winning Food Monthly supplement, hosting culinary events like EatReading Live and starting her own restaurant and hospitality PR business called H&D Food Solutions with a colleague after leaving the job.
In a tribute on her Facebook page, her sons Fergus and Harry said: “She hasn’t spoken about it publicly but for the past 12 months she has battled the effects of a degenerative lung disease. As she tried to stay strong and adjust to her new reality, the pressure on her body was getting too much.
“She will be sorely missed, leaving us far too young but having lived a rich life. We are so proud of all she has achieved in journalism and for the town of Reading which she loved so dearly.
“We are grateful for the time she was able to spend recently with her dear friends and family, including being able to hold her first grandchild George.
“As you read this, pour a glass of something special and toast to the one and only Hilary Scott.”
Details of Hilary’s funeral will be released in due course.