NCTJ mourns the death of its longest-ever serving staff member

Jan Alder, who worked for the NCTJ for nearly thirty years, has died of cancer. She passed away peacefully at St Helena Hospice in Colchester on 1 January 2021, aged 64.

Jan joined the NCTJ’s examinations department in April 1989 as an administrator and became the director, Keith Hall’s personal assistant in October 1990.

She worked with three succeeding chief executives, Rob Selwood, Sally Mellis and Joanne Butcher, until her departure in 2019.

Jan began her secretarial career in banking and recruitment before joining the printing industry, where she worked as a personal assistant at RR Donnelley, Burrup Mathieson and Greenaway Harrison.

Leading the tributes to Jan, Joanne Butcher, NCTJ chief executive said: “Jan was a stalwart of the NCTJ, a wonderful close colleague and friend who I will miss terribly. 

“She was a loyal, proper old-school pa, who always did everything professionally to exacting standards and with a smile. She was also enormous fun to work with, mischievous, good-humoured and no nonsense.

“With so many years of outstanding service, Jan was the unofficial NCTJ historian; what she didn’t know about the Council wasn’t worth knowing. I’m heartbroken she won’t be there as we celebrate our 70th anniversary year.

“My thoughts are with her beloved husband, David, at this very sad time.”

Kim Fletcher, chairman of the NCTJ, said: “It would be pushing it to say the NCTJ has ever been soap opera, but there have been occasional dramas as we’ve adapted to the changes in the media industry.

“Whatever the excitements, however tense the exchanges, whoever was making a fuss, we knew we could rely on Jan Alder to radiate calm. With a nudge on the tiller here, a warm word there, Jan used to brilliant effect the experience she had built up over nearly three decades.

“Some folk who give so much to an organisation become set in their ways. Jan didn’t. She was up for change and loved finding ways to make new things work.

“She liked journalists - someone has to - and relished journalism. What a joy it was to see her at a party, a drink in her hand and a mischievous twinkle in her eye, clocking the guests, enjoying the mood. And while you might have trouble getting her to talk so seriously about it, she was immensely proud of the NCTJ.

“We have no such inhibitions in saying how grateful we were to Jan - and how much we have missed that friendly face around the Newport office.”