Doomed Malaysia flight victim was former East Lancs-based journalist

A friend of Newcastle United fans John Alder and Liam Sweeney, who both lost their lives on flight MH17 looks at tributes left outside St James' Park

A friend of Newcastle United fans John Alder and Liam Sweeney, who both lost their lives on flight MH17 looks at tributes left outside St James' Park

First published in News Blackburn Citizen: Photograph of the Author by

A PASSENGER killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine used to work in Blackburn.

Glenn Thomas, 49, worked in the town as a journalist at Granada’s Blackburn office for two years in the mid-90s.

Mr Thomas, who was originally from Blackpool, was working as a media officer for the World Health Organisation in Geneva, and was on his way to an Aids conference in Australia.

He is one of at least nine British nationals known to be among those on board the Boeing 777-200, which is thought to have been shot down over war-torn Ukraine.

Carol Tapp was head of Granada’s East Lancashire bureau, when it was based in Daisyfield, Blackburn, and was Glenn’s boss for a couple of years.

She said: “He came to us in the mid-90s from local newspapers. He did a couple of years with us before moving to London with the BBC.

“He cut is teeth in East Lancashire and did some fantastic work while he was here, he was always out and about in the area.

“I had kept in touch with Glenn, I’ve got a daughter-in-law in Switzerland and he was going to get her an interview, but she didn’t want to commute.

“He wasn’t a pushy journalist, he was very gentle and he had a great way with people.”

Mr Thomas worked on the Blackpool Citizen newspaper, a former sister publication of the Lancashire Telegraph, in the late 80s and early 90s, before his move to Blackburn.

Rob Underdown, a photographer who worked with Mr Thomas in Blackpool, said: “My memories of him are all good. He was that nice guy who always had the beaming smile even at midnight on deadline day.

“Glenn went on to be a journalist at the BBC and most recently his work for WHO which he enjoyed enormously.

“That was Glenn, always giving, always smiling, a happy man and a great friend. At 49 he had a great life ahead of him and will be missed by so many people.”

Belinda Jenkins, a former colleague at the Blackpool Citizen, said: “He was a larger than life character and I never saw him without a beaming smile.

“He once worked at Buckingham Palace in the Press Office and ended up on the nationals.

“He had always kept in touch with me particularly at Christmas if he was back in Blackpool.

“He only recently lost his father. This is absolutely tragic.”

Mr Thomas posted on Facebook on Thursday morning of a ‘long day’s journey into the night’. He took an Air France plane from Geneva to Amsterdam, where he connected to the MH17 flight from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, bound for Kuala Lumpur.

A spokesman for WHO said: “Glenn had been with WHO for more than a decade.

“Glenn will be remembered for his ready laugh and his passion for public health.

“He will be greatly missed by those who had the opportunity to know him and work with him. He leaves behind his partner Claudio and his twin sister, Tracey.

“Our deepest condolences go to his family, friends and colleagues at this time.”

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