Claire Prosser, the founder and former director of the BBC Journalism Trainee Scheme and the first female editor of Ceefax, died suddenly in December 2014 after heart surgery.
Laura Cooper remembers Claire, a sound woman who inspired scores of people to build careers in radio.
Claire’s leadership, friendship and mentoring gave young journalists the skills to progress professionally and the confidence to perform to the best of their abilities. I met her nearly six years ago when she was running the BBC’s Journalism Trainee Scheme.
Claire’s stint as Director of the scheme was just one part of a career that had taken her to some of the most editorially challenging roles in the BBC, from Ceefax (where she was the first female Editor) to the Radio Newsroom and 5Live. She was one of the first women to be made assistant editor in the radio newsroom, at a time when men held many of the senior roles. Claire was editorially brilliant: rigorous, creative and bold. She was also the best kind of critic – inspiring, challenging and kind. And she wore all this lightly, with great personal warmth, an infectious naughty wit, and a fine selection of one-liners.
You couldn’t be a slouch with Claire. You wouldn’t want to anyway because her passion and enthusiasm were utterly infectious – but also because, for someone who had such a great appetite for fun, she also didn’t take much in the way of nonsense. And to those in need of support or advice, she was a trusted confidante: patient and completely discreet. Always thoughtful and constructive, she never patronized or pandered.
Our formal training might have been time limited but Claire’s idea of mentoring certainly wasn’t. She kept in regular contact with all of us over the years, keeping up-to-date with how careers were progressing, checking in to find out the latest (work and non-work related) and generally making sure things were ticking along nicely, never too busy for a cup of tea or some words of advice.
Claire will be so much missed by her many friends across the world of broadcasting and beyond. As her former trainees, we were very lucky to find ourselves in such good company amongst those many friends and we owe a huge, lasting debt of gratitude to a wonderful, inspiring woman.
Claire Prosser died on 1st December.
Her son also died of a heart condition. There’s a Just Giving tribute page to them here.
Laura Cooper is a producer and output editor for BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. She joined the BBC through the Journalism Trainee Scheme in 2009.