A plaque commemorating the unprecedented reporting of the Manx courts by the late Esther Richmond has been erected at Douglas Courthouse.
Esther reported on the courts for 43 years during a career in journalism that spanned more than 50 years. She was employed as Isle of Man Newspapers court reporter up until her death last April 16 at the age of 84.
Her brother Dollin Kelly and his wife Jean attended a small ceremony held on Tuesday to mark the erection of the plaque. Also in attendance were some of those to whom Esther was closest in her professional life, including past and present members of the judiciary, court staff and media colleagues.
First Deemster David Doyle hailed Esther’s reporting career as an ‘outstanding achievement’ and said it was fitting to have the memorial plaque in the public concourse. The plaque was commissioned by former deputy editor of Isle of Man Newspapers, Jo Overty.
‘It is a permanent plaque to record Esther’s outstanding contribution to the Manx media, and in particular to fair and accurate court reporting which is so essential to the maintenance and enhancement of the rule of law and open justice in this jurisdiction,’ he said.
Deemster Doyle shared a recurring memory of the times he would bump into Esther during luncheon court adjournments.
‘It was refreshing and a reality check when you bumped into Esther. She was frank and robust in her views. She was not slow in coming forward with them. I did not always share her strongly held opinions, but I respected the honest way in which they were delivered,’ said Deemster Doyle.
Dollin also shared memories of his sister; explaining how Esther’s background had been in hospitality and catering, but how her family encouraged her to enquire about a job with the Examiner at a time when the paper was undergoing changes – and the editor of the day admired the show of initiative and hired her over the phone. Esther started out as the southern reporter, but in time began reporting on the courts.
Esther knew the ‘skeet’, he said, recalling her as one who made friends, not acquaintances, and as someone who would help anyone.
‘Esther made friends easily and I’m reminded of the time when she was a member of the Automobile Club and so was High Bailiff Henry Callow and they had to sit together and share a table.
‘On one occasion Henry had to remind Esther that actually he was the High Bailiff and when he went back after lunch he would make up his mind what he was going to do. Her remark to him was “I hope you’re not going to send him down”,’ which she followed up with: ‘“He’s got a lovely red setter dog”.’
Dollin said: ‘I’m amazed to be standing here today to see a plaque being unveiled in memory of my sister and she would have been more amazed and for once, I think, she would have been speechless.
‘The family is deeply moved that this honour has been given for Esther to be remembered.’
His thanks went to Deemster Doyle and Jo Overty, whose idea it was to have a memorial plaque, as well as to everyone else who attended Tuesday’s ceremony, which he described as ‘a very moving event which will remain in my memory as one of the greatest highlights of my life’.