SWNS South West News Agency News agency founder dies aged 73
A South West journalist synonymous with the Bristol region's news and sport has died aged 73. Roland Arblaster, affectionately known as Roly, worked for Bristol dailies the Evening Post and Western Daily Press in the 1960s as a news reporter despite nearly embarking on a cookery course to become a chef. While doing a paper round prior to commencement of the course he noticed an advert for a junior reporter so applied for that instead.
Upon leaving the Bristol papers, Roly was a founder member of the South West News Service, now a very well-established and busy news agency supplying copy and pictures to national and international magazines, newspapers and broadcasters.
During his 17 years with SWNS he built a long-standing relationship with HTV and worked for them as a freelance TV reporter. Roland also supplied my own news agency CNS-City News Service with background and research on all matters related to his home stamping ground Bristol. When Danny la Rue appeared in the 1980 box office record breaking Christmas Pantomime Aladdin at the Bristol Hippodrome, Roly 'invented' a series of stories surrounding the Aladdin theme, which had local children invading carpet shops in the City looking for a missing flying magical carpet which finally ended up on a parking space, being clamped and Aladdin played by Geraldine Gardner (Bombalurina in the original London production of Cats) mistakenly handed a REAL parking ticket which took some explaining as it wasn't subsequently cancelled and court documents issued stated "Registration Number Refused!"
In the late 70s he covered the region's sport and in 1982 sold his share of SWNS to work full-time for HTV, becoming news editor and then taking over the sports desk in 1992.
That same year he launched the hour-long highlights show 'West Match' which was HTV's first dedicated football show.
Among the big stories he covered included exposing patient cruelty at a local hospital in the 1970s after two nurses turned whistle blowers and the great floods of 1968.
Roly was an avid cricket fan, following Gloucestershire CCC, and was chairman of Timsbury Cricket Club.
His son Colin told the Evening Post: "He was kind and worshipped mum and put her on a pedestal. He supported us and was a really strong character, and we will all miss him."
Roly died at his home whilst watching football. He leaves behind his wife Janet, they married in 1965, three children and five grandchildren.
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