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Pete Cashmore: A writer, a rapper, and a rascal

By Pete Madeley | In-depth | Published:

Pete Cashmore’s death was a shock for his friends at the Express and Star, and brought back memories of a one-of-a-kind writer and ideas man

Pete Cashmore with his report from Mensa as part of a feature

The death at 45 of former Express & Star journalist Pete Cashmore brought back many memories.

Wolverhampton born and bred, Pete started at the E&S as a sub-editor in January 2015, achieving a childhood ambition to work at the paper.

A former Midland News Association journalist of the year, he is fondly remembered as a talented and passionate writer who was equally adept at tackling the light hearted, the serious and everything in between.

He had previously worked for lads’ mag Loaded and NME, before becoming a co-founder and editor of the Nuts magazine.

He was also a freelance contributor to a number of national newspapers, including The Guardian.

During his near two-year stay at the E&S Pete also worked as a features writer and columnist, providing opinion pieces for the main paper and the Weekend section.

An ideas man by nature, there were not many issues that Pete did not hold an opinion on – and he was always keen to share his views with readers.

He wrote of his adoration of Wolves legend Steve Bull, the merits of the Eurovision song contest, his concern over a spate of owl thefts in Staffordshire, the wonders of pizza, and the juvenile behaviour of politicians.

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Pete was a staunch defender of the city of his birth, and often targeted his pen at any think-tank daft enough to criticise it.

Pete collecting his award from Kerry Lucey

An avid Wolves fan, one of his favourite pieces of work reflected on a pop song released by former club boss Mick McCarthy, featuring a critical analysis of the music by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s Jonn Penney.

His work also tackled serious issues, including stalking – of which he had been a victim, mental health and racism.

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His battles with depression were a regular theme, writing in November 2015: “If you’re in pain, talk to someone. And if someone comes to you for help, then please, please, listen to them.”

Pete was named West Midlands journalist of the year at the 2016 MNA Real Awards, milking the applause to maximum effect as he walked up to receive his prize – then quickly dashing off to phone his mum.

Speaking after his win he said: “I cannot believe it. I’m absolutely on top of the world. I’m blown away. What I do is slightly removed from what you call journalism.

“Mainly I do opinion stuff and I take pleasure in writing, so I hope that comes through.”

He was prolific on Twitter, putting his thousands of followers down to the fact that he shared a name with the founder of Mashable, who is said to be one of social media’s most influential men.

By the time he arrived at the E&S Pete had already lived a rich life.

His love of rap music – and talent in writing about it – led to him interviewing some of the scene’s biggest stars, including one memorable trip to meet Wu-Tang Clan at their California mansion.

He regularly performed on the UK’s rap battle scene, looking like a fish out of water with his grey hair and satchel but usually vanquishing his foes in clinical fashion.

In the mid-1990s Pete won Countdown, a show he had been persuaded to go on by his close friend James Brodie.

Former Countdown winners Glen Webb and Pete Cashmore face off at the Royal Oak in 2015

“I was fed up of him not allowing me to speak every time it came on the telly,” James recalls. “I couldn’t take it anymore and ended up phoning Channel 4 to find out how to get him on.

“I knew he’d win. He pretty much did every time and then I was allowed to speak!”

Paying tribute to his pal of more than three decades, James added: “I shall miss the humour we shared. There was one summer when he would come up from London pretty much each weekend and insist that we watch the latest Rambo after the pub again and again. Pete, you’ll be missed by a lot of people mate.”

Martin Daubney, the former editor of Loaded and a friend of 17 years who gave Pete his break in lad’s mags after hiring him as staff writer in 2002, said: “I gave Pete a job after he offered to get loaded tattooed across his spine.

"That’s how dedicated – and wonderfully bonkers – Pete was. We went on to be great mates, through good and not-so-great times.

“One of the last things Pete wrote was for me, an effusive recommendation of an AI-powered ‘listening bot’ I’d helped build to help men anonymously talk about their mental health.

"Pete said my bot, called HARR-e, was better than half the human therapists he’d seen, which blew me away.

"In Pete’s honour I plan to present his article to the Mental Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price in the coming weeks, meaning Pete will posthumously be calling for better mental health support for men.

“I hope this is a fitting legacy for a beautiful, yet tortured, soul, who I miss dearly”.

Express & Star editor Martin Wright, said: “Pete Cashmore was a brilliant writer and sub editor, as well as being a very popular member of the editorial team.

"During his time with the Midland News Association Pete, who was truly one of the industry’s great characters, made many friends and will be hugely missed by everyone here.

“The tributes paid to Pete across the industry are testament to his talent and the lasting impression he made on everyone he met.”

Jacqui Oatley said he was “probably the most talented man to hail from our village of Codsall but cruelly ravaged by mental illness”.

She added: “He expressed himself in a way that many others couldn’t.”

Pete left the E&S in November 2016 and, prior to his death, was in the process of writing a book.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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