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Obituary: ANNE FRANCES POTTS

by
21 November 2014

Dr Bernard Palmer writes:

A LINK with the Church Times's editorial past has been broken with the death on 12 November of Anne Frances Potts, who edited what became its Young Readers' Page in the 1950s and 1960s. She was 95, and had been a widow since 1995.

Anne Potts was born and was married into the Church of England Ministry. Her father, Cuthbert Thicknesse, was an outstanding personality who had built up for himself a formidable reputation first as Rector of Wigan (1922-36), and then as Dean of St Albans (1936-54).

Anne's husband, Mark Potts, was also an outstanding priest. After three assistant curacies, he was Vicar successively of St John's, Harpenden, in Hertfordshire, and of Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight. He retired in 1981 to Winchester, where he and Anne built up a new life for themselves.

The CT's page for young readers had been started by Rosamund Essex in 1937 as the Children's Page. It was an early casualty of the Second World War, however: the severe rationing of newsprint soon caused its abandonment.

It was relaunched in 1952, and was at first edited by newsroom reporters. Anne took it over from my late wife, Jane, and remained its supremo for the next 17 years.

She came to the office (then in Portugal Street) each Wednesday, and spent the day licking the following week's page into shape. She didn't write a great deal herself - though her style, when she did write, was always immensely readable - but built up an accomplished band of authors and artists. So successful was the page that book publishers became interested, and an anthology of extracts, Ten Bright Candles, named after the seasons of the Church's year, was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1958. It was a great success, and all 10,000 copies of the print-run were sold.

Anne gave up the editorship of the Children's Page (by then it had been rechristened the Young Readers' Page) to Joan Selby Lowndes in 1971, but the page was discontinued by my successor as Editor, John Whale (to the dismay of many readers).

Anne is survived by her four children - two sons and two daughters, from her marriage to Mark.

Although we only saw her once a week, her unassuming friendliness made her a deservedly popular figure in the Church Times office during her 17-year reign.

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