By Karina Barker
One of the hardest jobs in journalism is to write a tribute when someone has sadly passed away. It is harder still when that person is someone you and many, many others classed as a true friend.
Since the news emerged on Monday that Carol Davies had died, aged 73, the sheer number of heartfelt tributes from far and wide have been evidence of the impact she made in so many lives.
I first met Carol in 2002. I was a young reporter for the Thanet Extra, the Kent Messenger free paper for the area. On her first day as the editor, someone had arranged for all the computers to be upgraded, and the editorial staff had been temporarily shipped out to other offices. I was in Herne Bay. Carol had driven from her home in Herne to meet me in Cliftonville, only to find I was just down the road. We joked about this, and similar “you had to be there” moments for years.
Like the time I almost got washed out to sea by a giant wave on a reporting job, arriving back at the office looking like a drowned rat and Carol ran to the nearest charity shop to get me a complete new outfit. And how she consoled me while trying not to giggle when it emerged a BBC reporter had caught the wave moment on camera and I was the star of the evening news.
Carol’s incredible professionalism was evident from day one. An early career in book publishing had led her to spending several years at the Adscene group, where she became series editor of the Canterbury Adscene, the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Times before joining the KM. Her experience and advice was invaluable for a rookie reporter.
Everyone from politicians to work experience students were instantly put at ease by Carol’s friendly openness. Thanet is a very busy news patch, always something happening, much of it quite hard to digest. But it was the only newsroom I ever worked in where light relief came from the dressing up box, where we (OK, Carol) collected various items of fancy dress to cheer us up while trying to fathom yet another planning report or badly written press release.
Lunch was often provided by Carol as well, she loved to cook and share her creations with friends. Everyone who knew Carol was struck by her sense of fun and her genuine warmth. Her passion for music was infectious, and was inherited from her beloved mum, May, who lived in Broadstairs and was still regularly attending gigs around the isle well into her 80s.
One of Carol’s proudest achievements at the Thanet Extra was the comprehensive four page local gig guide that we crafted every week. So many of Thanet’s landlords, promoters and acts counted her as a friend and were grateful for her support. None more so than Captain Mildred, then Majestic 12, bands fronted by her long term partner and, as of May 2021, husband Matt Silk, who she was with for over 25 years.
Not long after we met, Carol persuaded me to bring my boyfriend to see Matt’s band. We were instant fans, so much so that we booked them for our wedding in 2005. I left the KM soon after, but Carol, Matt and the band remained firm friends of the whole family.
My lasting memories of her will always have music in there somewhere. Having the ability to engage with 4 year olds and 90 year olds at the same time is a rare skill, but one Carol possessed and is why there are people of all ages and of all backgrounds who will miss her very much indeed.
There are so many more things I could say but I think if I had to sum up Carol in one word, it would be positivity. Even when doctors told her a few weeks ago that her treatment for cancer was no longer working, she updated her Facebook status to say she was ‘disappointed’ but had hope.
Her last post was to say she had been moved to the Pilgrim’s Hospice in Canterbury, from where she could see the garden and hear the birds sing.
I will certainly be accentuating the positive from now on, as Carol would have done. And while those who knew her will be sad that she’s no longer with us, I’m sure everyone of us is grateful that we got to know her in the first place and know that she will always be part of our lives.