Shock and sadness at the death of contributor David Callam

STEVEN DOWNES on the tragic news of a stalwart of the local press, the borough, and of Inside Croydon

David Callam: sad loss

David Callam: sad loss

We were going to run a self-indulgent feature at the weekend about the fifth anniversary of Inside Croydon. But then we got news of the death of David Callam.

From very early on after this website was started, David had been one of our keenest readers and supporters. And critic.

Always among the first to post a comment, sometimes barely minutes after an article had been published, his remarks were usually insightful, often caustic, and always hugely helpful.

For sure, David may have had something of the Grumpy Old Men demeanour about his outlook of late, but as an antidote to so much of the saccharine sentimentality which is peddled about Croydon, and which is often used to disguise the failings of the local authority and the political hacks who inhabit the Town Hall, his interventions were a very welcome balance.

We even devised a formula to give David a platform for his trenchant views, the Croydon Commentary, an archive of his columns which can be found here.  Pretty much all of them stand the test of time.

A journalist to the ink that flowed in his veins, David Callam’s copy was always delivered before deadline and never needed any editing work. Though he never admitted it explicitly, there was a sense that David relished the opportunity to fire both barrels at those in charge, whether at the Town Hall, the NHS or Fairfield Halls.

“Hi David,” the call would go out, “Have you seen this? Fancy doing a few words on it for us?”

The final time I was able to make that request was for David to repeat an exercise he had undertaken a couple of years ago, for the first “Croydon Heritage Festival”. The response I got was typically David: robust disinterest in cant and nonsense.

“Not enthusiastic about the Whitgift Centre PR Festival. Same old, same old. More bloody walking tours and talks about arcane aspects of borough history. Beyond a few swats, I can’t imagine many people being interested. And it certainly won’t bring the tourists in. Another wasted opportunity. Next!”

David Callam’s final piece for this website, as it turns out, was just over a week ago, when he returned to one of his favoured themes, that of local businesses and the high street.

David Callam had been a long-time journalist on local newspapers, including the Croydon Advertiser, in the days when the paper was still based in the borough and had a staff of some more experienced journalists, adequate enough to cover the broad patch in such a way that they were able to have a designated Business Correspondent, which was the role he filled.

“He was a great deal of fun to work with and had a clear understanding of the workings and needs of the business community in Croydon,” his former Advertiser colleague, the recently retired Ian Austen, told Inside Croydon.

“He was well-respected and built up a good relationship with businesses, something which made it easier for me when I took over the coverage.”

After he left the Advertiser, Callam did some work in public relations, including for the council and other local authorities, but more recently he seemed to be enjoying the quieter life at his home in Croham.

Throughout his Commentaries and comments and his other social media activity, there was a common theme in David Callam’s more recent writing, seeking to “protect our public services and stand for people over big business”. It is a noble objective.

I know I will miss David’s acerbic comments and wise counsel. I’m sure Croydon will too.

David died after a short illness last Friday morning. He was 65.

We send condolences to Julia, David’s wife, his sons James and Andrew, and the rest of his family and friends at this very sad time.

  • The funeral for David Callam will be held at Beckenham Crematorium at Elmers End at 2.15pm on Monday, June 29, and afterwards for coffee at Coombe Lodge. The family requests no flowers, but donations can be made to the British Heart Foundation, paid by cheque and sent to the Cooperative Funeral Purley or brought to the crematorium.
  • James and Andrew ask that David’s friends should attend the ceremony wearing bow ties – “the brighter, the better” – to help remember their father.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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13 Responses to Shock and sadness at the death of contributor David Callam

  1. KristianCyc says:

    Sad news. David’s commentaries were always thoughtful and provocative. I didn’t always agree with him but he was interesting because he was independently minded, so you couldn’t ever guess what his opinions on any given topic might be. Condolences to his family.

  2. Very sad news. His contributions were always worth reading. Didn’t always agree with him but that is what democracy and freedom is about. Rest in peace and rise in glory.

  3. I’m very sorry to hear this extremely sad news. As soon as you saw David’s name above a comment, you knew it would be a thought-provoking contribution.

  4. I worked alongside David in the newsroom at the Advertiser in the good old days. He was a true gentleman, courteous and kind. We all enjoyed his company and it is so sad to hear of his untimely death.

  5. Sad news.

    I never met him but always read his contributions and loved them….

  6. Very sorry to hear this sad news

  7. Jonathan Law says:

    So sad to hear of David’s passing. He was certainly a good journalist and his pieces were always thought provoking , even though he and I may have been at odds over some of the issues.
    My thoughts go out to his family and friends.

  8. kevinbeach says:

    From the age of 11 David (then Dave) and I were at school together at St Josephs College, Beulah Hill. We were each other’s best man.

    It was no surprise to me when in his early 30s he left public service employment and started working for himself, using words as the tools of his trade. Since I first knew him, he was a wizard with words, not always being very economical with them but always leaving his listeners on the school yard and in the classroom in no doubt where he stood.

    Acerbity and plain speaking have been attributed to him in this article, but it should also be known that his attitude to his very many friends was alway wrapped in great kindness. His concern with people in general was based on compassion, no matter how much his considerable cynicism might lead him to criticise what they were doing.

    He was the gentlest yet strongest of friends. May angels lead him into Paradise.

  9. As another Advertiser hack from the good old days, I am also very sad to hear of his passing. A real gent, immense wit (and ready cynicism) and a joy to work with. He was yet another Advertiser journo who had a passion for his work and his place of work which was an inspiration to us all.

  10. Nick Davies says:

    There are too few these days prepared to challenge the powerpoint managerialism which so many
    are prepared to tolerate. I’ll miss David’s contributions on Inside Croydon, and his gentle ribbing when my arrows missed their target.

  11. catswiskas says:

    Really, really sad that David isn’t here anymore. I looked forward to his comments.

  12. titflasher says:

    Very sad news. My condolences to his friends, family and loved ones. A man whose views I respected, even if I didn’t always agree with them.

  13. croydonres says:

    Clearly, David Callam will be much missed by many, as will his journalism and his always-intelligent and thought-provoking contributions to Inside Croydon.

    A huge loss in fact to local press, debate, and thus, our local democracy.

    Sadly, I never met him, but feel privileged to have read his contributions, and, in my turn, added my comments into some of the comment chains he initiated! Sad also, to know that we won’t be reading new contributions by David. However, his flag is still flying in the form of the Archive, and in fact, any serious debate in Inside Croydon on important topics of the kind he would comment on.

    My condolences to all who knew and miss him.

    Lewis White, a regular reader of Inside Croydon.

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