Richard Whitmore: Hitchin's good news story
PUBLISHED: 16:12 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:47 20 February 2013
Richard Whitmore, Hitchin's friendly face of the Nine O'Clock News, tells Geraldine Blount why living in Hertfordshire has been a good news story for him
ALTHOUGH we all recognise Hitchin-based Richard Whitmore as one of the faces of the BBC's Nine O'Clock News during the 1970s and 80s, there is much more to this lovable local character.
Richard's eventful career has seen him excel as a successful writer and actor while he is also known in the county for his support for many Hertfordshire charities.
Born in Hitchin in 1933, Richard has enjoyed living in the area for most of his life. 'Hitchin is a special place and a wonderful town, which still retains much of its original architecture that gives it so much character,' says Richard. 'It was lucky to avoid much of the ugly redevelopment that went on during the 1960s and has kept its lovely medieval buildings in the town centre. All of this has contributed to it having a charming country market feel about it.'
But it is not just the physical aspects of the town that make Hitchin so appealing to Richard: 'The people here are also special, they are warm and friendly and there is a real sense of community here which I love.'
This he puts down to the many civic, community and voluntary organisations that enable people to get involved with each other and local issues in the area.
Richard first experienced this as a boy when he became a Scout and then later at 18 he joined the Bancroft Players, a local amateur dramatics group. He has always maintained that it was this acting experience that gave him some much needed self-confidence and helped him to overcome his terrible shyness. This inevitably provided him with an advantage when applying for jobs at the BBC, in fact he explains: 'If it had not been for that experience I would not have been able to do the job of newsreader, never mind beat 200 other applicants to get the job.'
Knowing that organisations such as amateur theatre clubs provide an important outlet for young people to express themselves and gain personally as he did made Richard want to give something back to the town and help the amateur drama group that had given him so much. In fact it is partly due to his efforts that the Bancroft Players and the junior and youth theatre schools in Hitchin are still going strong.
Richard initiated and was a driving force in the project to build a theatre in the town, which provides a home for these dramatic associations, and, as a well-known newsreader, he was able to use his celebrity status to raise funds for the scheme.
Article taken from June issue of Hertfordshire Life