Princess Alexandra's letter pays tribute to devoted Shropshire journalist Shirley Tart

A letter from Buckingham Palace has expressed condolences over the death of a pioneering Shropshire Star journalist.

Princess Alexandra meets Shirley Tart on a visit to Shropshire.
Princess Alexandra meets Shirley Tart on a visit to Shropshire.

Shirley Tart MBE worked for the Midlands News Association (MNA), publishers of the Shropshire Star, for 63 years, in a career that included a long-standing role as royal correspondent for the paper.

She died last month at the age of 81.

A letter on behalf of Princess Alexandra, sent to Tom Graham, chairman of the MNA, describes how Shirley's service and devotion had been valued.

The letter, from Diane Duke, CVO DL private secretary and comptroller to HRH Princess Alexandra, also expressed condolences to Shirley's colleagues, and sadness at her death.

It said: "Princess Alexandra was sorry to learn of the death of Miss Shirley Tart MBE.

"Her Royal Highness valued Miss Tart's 40 years of service and devotion to her job as a Royal Correspondent.

"Princess Alexandra has asked that her sincere condolences be passed on to colleagues of Miss Tart."

Shropshire Star editor, Martin Wright, said they were grateful for the sentiments expressed by Princess Alexandra.

He added that they were a testament to the respect and admiration Shirley had earned during a career dedicated to journalism.

He said: "Shirley was a pioneer who joined the Shropshire Star when it launched in 1964 and generations of readers have benefitted from her commitment to local journalism.

"The letter from Princess Alexandra is hugely appreciated at what has been an incredibly sad time for all connected with the MNA, and all who knew Shirley.

"It speaks to the respect with which Shirley was held – respect which she had earned through her remarkable dedication to the profession, and the people of Shropshire, over an extraordinary 63-year-career."

Shirley had been recognised with an MBE for her services to the newspaper industry in 2005.

Throughout her MNA career she held the role of women’s editor for 30 years, and became royal correspondent for both the Express & Star and the Shropshire Star in 1994.

She also worked as assistant editor of the Express & Star before taking on a position as associate editor of the Shropshire Magazine.

Away from journalism she was a patron of Hope House children’s hospice, helping to launch the charity’s appeal. Other roles saw her as a deputy lord lieutenant, a patron of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and county vice-president of Girlguiding.

Shirley was also a founding member of the Shropshire branch of the Leukaemia Research Fund.

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