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'One of the true giants of the magazine industry' – a tribute to the late Terry Mansfield

By Barry McIlheney

April 8, 2020 | 4 min read

Terry Mansfield, the former president and chief executive of the National Magazine Company, and former chairman of the PPA, died in London on March 28 after contracting coronavirus. He was 81. Here Barry McIlheney, the outgoing chief executive of the PPA, pays tribute to a giant of the magazine industry.

Terry Mansfield

Every time I met Terry Mansfield he would introduce himself as if meeting me for the very first time, and as if he were trying to sell me a page in whatever obscure title he had just invented in his own head. Out would go the hand, and then you would hear that unique transatlantic drawl. Terry Mansfield, Beekeepers Monthly.

Far from being some wet-eared jobbing ad rep, Terry was of course one of the true giants of our industry, as detailed in Colin Morrison’s fulsome tribute here. Yet throughout his extraordinary 60-year career, the vast majority of it spent in the higher echelons at NatMags (now Hearst), he somehow never seemed to lose that fresh-faced enthusiasm for the game, that sheer passion for the nuts and bolts of what we do every day, that pure love for the business of magazines.

He took me out for lunch at The Delaunay not long after I started at the PPA back in 2010. Expecting a quick chat, we ended up ensconced in our booth until late afternoon, as Terry gave me the full treatment. Kicking off with his tales of national service and seeing the atomic bomb being tested on Easter Island, moving on through the glory years at NatMags, coming in close to give me the inside detail on some ancient feud with Nick Coleridge, before wrapping up with the usual ask, namely could I help him with some charity thing he was heading up and by the way did I know of anyone who might be right for this B2B title he was helping out on.

I remember two other things from that long lunch. One was his famous mantra about how every man has three stages to his life. Learning, earning, and returning. I was still very much hoping to be earning, but Terry was now clearly in the latter stage, hence the myriad charity gigs, most bizarrely his close links with MOBO. And, towards the end, he leant in to give me some advice on how best to tackle the PPA gig. Look yourself in the mirror every morning, he drawled, and ask yourself what mischief can I cause today.

As Colin rightly says, Terry could be a prickly figure, and we had one spectacular row some years ago over the Marcus Morris Award, which he had himself instigated many years before in honour of his old NatMags friend and mentor. I apologised profusely and just hoped that he would have forgiven me by the next time we met up. I shouldn’t have worried. Out came the hand. Then the big smile and the drawl. Terry Mansfield, Knitting Weekly.

The very last time I saw him was pure Terry. It was a wet Tuesday night at The Stationers, a black-tie minor industry do, the kind of thing I go to because I have to rather than because I necessarily want to be there, especially on a Champions League night and all that. Looking around the room, I could see nobody else from our world, bar the 81-year-old Terry Mansfield, still working the room, still hustling for his beloved Hearst, still trying to get a page away in the Meat Trades Journal. He was one of a kind, a magazine man to his bones, and our world already seems a much duller place without him.

Terence G. Mansfield: 1938-2020

This article first appeared on ppa.co.uk

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