By Andrew Brown
Tributes are being paid to campaigning Southport journalist, newspaper editor, radio presenter and live music supporter Martin Hovden.
People have spoken of their shock after Martin died at his home at the age of 70.
His funeral takes place on Wednesday 25th January 2023 at 10am at Southport Crematorium.
Family flowers only.
His ‘Live Sounds’ column in the Champion and later in the Southport Visiter series of newspapers saw him giving a valuable platform to talented local musicians.
He was a regular figure at live gigs locally, always happy to give his time freely as a judge at contests such as Battle Of The Bands.
Martin was everywhere. Playing a part in his local community was very important to him.
He would always challenge authority when he felt that something needed raising on behalf of local people.
As with every good journalist he neither feared nor favoured, and took a huge interest in local and national politics.
He wanted to encourage people to become involved, to vote, to make their voice heard.
Coverage of local politics was always very prominent during his time there.
He also had a mantra of getting stuck in when needed.
When Southport lost its Christmas lights many years ago, he started a hugely successful Christmas Lights campaign that saw lights restored to the town.
He worked alongside Sefton Council, which provided £50,000 funding every year, and raised further funds from local businesses to create a large Christmas Lights switch on event each year with a variety of major celebrities taking part.
He encouraged young journalists at the Champion to get out into the local community, to follow his lead in having a voice and providing a voice for others.
It proved to be great training. Many journalists he trained at the Champion have gone on to enjoy superb careers in journalism and beyond.
While Martin was editor of the Champion and I was deputy editor and then editor of the Southport Visiter titles, we had a great working relationship and friendship.
We worked together on the campaign to restore Children’s A&E to Southport – a campaign that saw 26,000 local people sign a petition calling for the services to be reinstated.
He was well respected among his colleagues in the journalism industry.
On Facebook today, respected Merseyside journalist Tony McDonough wrote: “I’m shocked to hear Martin Hovden has died. I first worked with Martin on the Merseymart in 1992. In 1994 he left to become editor of the Liverpool Champion and I became his deputy.
“He started his career on the Wirral News. In later years he edited the Southport Champion. Martin also worked in radio in Southport and was a big supporter of the local music scene.
“A genuine good guy and he will be sadly missed.”
Former Champion colleague Ollie Cowan, who worked with Martin for a number of years, told QLocal Southport: “Martin was an incredibly professional and diligent journalist who was in no way averse to challenging anyone in pursuit of a news story.
“Martin gave me my first break in journalism, and I have clear memories of him grilling me during my application to do work experience at the Champion when I was 15.
“I don’t think he was keen on hiring anyone, such was his love for the paper and its reputation for quality local journalism.
“Luckily, he gave me a shot and I am forever grateful for that opportunity he provided me.
“One of my first roles was to sub edit his ‘Mr X’ food review column and to this day many restaurants in Southport still proudly have his reviews of their establishment framed on their walls.
“There wasn’t a corner of the local media scene Martin didn’t seem to get involved in and he soon turned his hand to radio and digital broadcast news in later life.
“I must admit I never expected him to stop, and he certainly didn’t! Up to just a few weeks before he passed Martin was still churning out opinion pieces, features and news and still managing to get a significant reaction – good or bad – from readers. That’s what he loved and what he always did best!”
Martin was a huge supporter of local live music.
After being suddenly and unexpectedly made redundant by Champion Newspapers, the company axed his Live Sounds column.
We were delighted to instantly bring it back via the Southport Visiter series instead.
He would always give time either through his newspaper column, or his Live Sounds radio slot on Mighty Radio, or in person at gigs, to supporting local bands and musicians, helping them to progress in their careers.
Writing on Facebook today, Billy Vitch wrote: “Some terribly sad news.
“Martin Hovden, the well known and loved Southport journalist and radio presenter from Mighty Southport Radio has sadly passed away at home aged 70.
“A beautiful and kind man, who did so much for his local community and local music scene.
“Martin invited me on to his radio show several times over the years when I was a musician releasing my own music, each time he had me on the show for several hours and let me play my music live.
“It was a massive deal for me and really helped me in my early musical career.
“I am truly sorry to hear of his passing.
“Rest in peace Sir and thank you for everything you did for me, you will be dearly missed.x”
Martin Hovden certainly left his legacy in Southport and beyond.
It’s a legacy that he would have wanted – to have known that he has made a difference.
Rest In Peace Martin.