James Ledward

James Ledward a great friend and mentor - 1954 - 2019

James Ledward a great friend and mentor - 1954 - 2019

It was with great sadness I learnt of the death of my friend and most amazing mentor, James Ledward. James played a huge role in the life of Flutewise during all of the years we produced a magazine and I think it is fair to say he taught me virtually everything I know about printing, publishing and marketing.

James studied oboe and conducting at the London College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music and when I first met him he had a flourishing music publishing and printing business in Hove. I was introduced to him by our mutual friend, Simon Hunt, a flute player and publisher. This was over 30 years ago when I was setting up Flutewise. Simon insisted on taking me to the print works in Goldsmid Mews, Farm Road, Hove as he said if I just went there on my own I would never cross the threshold. He was right! It looked like, and was, organised chaos. I met James and his small team - Robin who worked the printing press, Julian who was in charge of cutting and folding and Duncan who did arranging and later typesetting.

This was days before the high technology we have now. Words and music were type set, I used to have to prepare everything using printed out sheets from a type writer and then cut and paste them together in a draft of what I wanted things to look like leaving room for photos and drawings. We used lots of drawings in those days as they were easier to print than photos. Once I produced my draft, James would take over and get it ready on huge negative plates for printing after I had proof read it. Life got a little easier with the arrival of the first Macintosh computer in my life, a Macintosh Plus (it cost £1066 and the following week we had to go back and spend £465 on a hard drive as it was operated by floppy disks - look that one up! - and it took forever to load). We couldn’t afford a laser printer, the first one we bought a few years down the line cost almost £3000, but James was always so generous and would bring his around to my house when a magazine was ready so we could print it all out. The cost of computers was so high all of those years ago and they could do so little compared to today.

The printing press Robin used was an ancient Heidlelberg, it printed from negative plates, most of the world at that time had switched to positive. I’ve got a ‘job bag’ containing these huge A2 metal plates up in my loft of one of the magazines. I remember well Robin and James having to run the press all night on more than one occasion to print music when we had those huge Barbican events in the 90s. Happy days.

There were lots of scary days to in the production of the Flutewise magazine - the day we forgot to put a date on the cover, the time a ‘spot colour’ looked like it hadn’t printed, one time when I opened an inspection copy and found the wrong photos (that was James winding me up with a rogue copy!, the time the Post Office lost an entire print run … I could go on. James gently supported me through it all and each time we produced a magazine I learnt a bit more.

James went on to produce Impact and GScene magazines and he was a leading figure in the Brighton LGBT community, respected and loved by many, he did so much good work. 

He was a good friend away from publishing. It was thanks to him we got our beautiful cat Doppy. I remember after an education show in London James was too tired to drive and insisted I took over the wheel of this ancient van. I could’t move the gear stick, it was a stressful and at the same time hilarious journey. I will also never forget the day my husband and I were celebrating a wedding anniversary. I had insisted on having a big party. My husband was not happy, he said no one would come. The very first person to turn up, very early, was James with the biggest bouquet of flowers I have ever seen, he could hardly get them through the door. It was the start of a lovely celebration.

There are so many memories and so much to be grateful for. I was talking to Robin who said he expected James to always be there. We always expected everyone to be there in our lives always, but sadly, this isn’t true. I am just so thankful and happy to have had James in my life, without him I doubt Flutewise magazine would have developed.