TRIBUTES have been paid to the first ever announcer on ITV Border Television, who has died aged 90.

Alongside Allan Cartner, Clive Champney was one of the first voices on the new Carlisle-based television station, which launched in 1961.

Mr Champney died peacefully of natural causes with his family by his side on Monday.

He spent 30 years working for the station.

Despite his subsequent success, his upbringing was far from conventional, as his daughter Julia Champney explained: “He was born and grew up in Windlesham in Berkshire and at 18 he got tuberculosis.

“He was given six months to live. He was sent to a TB clinic on the Isle of Wight and he was there for a couple of months. Just after the war my uncle married an Australian girl and moved to Melbourne, so they all moved to there for a few years. He got a job working for a production company that went on to make Neighbours.

“He got a place at RADA [the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art], but he didn’t take it because he was ill. He went to work for the BBC in London, doing announcing on the radio and radio programmes for the BBC. He did lots of early talking books.”

It was following his work for the BBC that the opportunity came up at ITV Border.

“His sister had seen an advertisement for a six month contract for a new television station in Carlisle and he was the first announcer at Border. He came for six months and he was there for life. He retired 30 years ago.”

As well as working for ITV Border he also did a classical music programme for CFM. Mr Champney also wrote and produced a children’s drama series called Timbertops for Metro Radio in Newcastle, which was later used across the whole network.

He also gave his voice - free of charge - to the National Society for the Blind. Aside from his career in broadcasting he was also a great family man.

“There aren’t enough amazing words to describe dad. He was kind, funny - the funniest guy you would ever meet. He was thoughtful, caring, the best man I have ever met. He was the person in the wider family to keep in contact with everyone. He was the dad of the family who kept everything together. During 10 months in hospital he has not once been anything other than the most grateful gentleman to be with.”

In the latter years of his professional career Mr Champney joined Carlisle-based casting agency Lakeside Casting Agency, which was ran by Phil McKay, who he was friends with from his time at ITV Border.

“He was a true gentleman,” said Phil, 60. “Speaking as his agent he was as professional as you could ever ask for. He was always on time, he always gave a good performance and he was loved by everyone.

“He was the most marvellous and kind human being.”

Phil has fond memories of the times he spent with Mr Champney and reminisced with him on his last visit to see his old friend. “I went into the ward, I grabbed his hand and I said ‘do you remember the fun we used to have on the radio? We did the Santa show. All those children you made so happy. Remember the good times we had.”

The pair’s friendship was one that went on for decades.

“He wasn’t just a friend for 35/40 years, I was his agent for the last 15 years for his acting work.

“He appeared in Distant Shores with Peter Davison in 2004 and 2005 and Elizabeth I The Virgin Queen.”

He also starred in training films for the NHS, playing a patient in those films.

There is one particular phrase that sticks in Phil’s mind from his friend’s time at ITV Border.

“He used to say ‘well that’s it, it’s nearly midnight. You won’t forget to switch off your set will you?’

“The set is switched off now isn’t it? He was a great man.”

His funeral service will be held at Carlisle Crematorium at 9.40am on December 19. The family ask for no flowers, with donations for Compassion in World Farming - a charity close to Mr Champney’s heart.