Rob GanleySee other Blog articles filed in ‘Editor's Blog’ written by Rob Ganley
It is with great sadness we announce that Doug King died on 15 April 2014 after a long battle with cancer.
Doug was the Technical Editor of Practical Caravan and a contributor to the magazine for more than 20 years. He was much-loved by the dozens of Practical Caravan staff and tens of thousands of Practical Caravan readers down the years who benefited from his encyclopaedic caravan knowledge.
He wrote on technical matters, and carried out repair work, DIY improvements, troubleshooting and maintenance on countless project caravans in that time. He was also an invaluable source of help to caravanners via the Practical Caravan helpline.
In addition, Doug was very proud to have been voted Best Journalist at the Caravan Club Media Awards in both 1997 and 2007.
Doug, a former advertising executive from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, first set foot in a caravan at the age of 19 some 60 years ago, and until recently would regularly spend 70 nights a year on the road with his caravan. There is little of the UK that he and his wife Brenda did not visit, and they covered much of Europe, too.
Doug was a fierce defender of quality and tireless in his efforts to raise standards among caravan makers and dealers. He was a great ambassador for caravanning in the wider media too, including a memorable appearance on the Paul O'Grady Show in 2008.
In 2008, the Express ran a major feature on him, entitled 'I'm the caravan King'. Doug bought his first caravan in 1972, a four-berth Sprite Major for £350, and recalling his first outing told the newspaper:
"I really enjoyed it... The children occupied themselves and, most importantly, were safe as the caravan park was away from the road. I realised it was a more natural environment in which to bring them up. By the time we got home, I'd fallen in love with caravanning. I loved that you could relax in a park, go wherever you wanted to go, eat what you wanted and enjoy hassle-free holidays. It also made me feel like a real man – I learned everything from DIY techniques, such as changing tyres and how to best pack the car, to what time of day is best for spotting rabbits."
Upon learning he had been diagnosed with cancer, Doug faced the situation with characteristic bravery and stubborn optimism. He will be remembered with great fondness by all those who knew him, and we miss him dearly.
Practical Caravan Group Editor Rob Ganley said: "Doug was a legend among Practical Caravan fans and within the wider caravan industry. Caravanners have lost a fearless champion of this great hobby. I will miss his enthusiasm and passion for all things caravanning, and his unflagging support for this magazine."
Former Editor of Practical Caravan, and Doug's friend, Nigel Donnelly, said: "The first call I made when I started on Practical Caravan was to Doug King. We needed him back. The magazine was doing OK, but I knew it looked light on experience and passion. Convincing him to return to Practical Caravan was easier than I imagined and the difference on the mag pages was palpable. Every issue was plumped by his enthusiasm and knowledge. Yes, it felt like I worked for him rather than the other way around and I got called a 'bloody idiot' pretty much every day. Truth was, though, that every second spent on the phone, email or sharing one of Brenda's cheese sandwiches on a workshop day was time when I was studying, learning what made 'real' caravanners tick. For the years we worked together, Doug was my caravan dad and I remain in his debt."
John Rawlings, who worked on the Practical Caravan staff from 1992 to 1998 said: "I first met Doug, and Brenda, when I started working at Practical Caravan and have kept in touch with him ever since. Doug was always a great ambassador for caravanning – very friendly and always willing to help, with vast amounts of experience to share. He was a great character, with lots of energy, and will be impossible to forget.
"Doug and Brenda made a great team. I always remember how they made us very welcome when we visited to photograph his latest DIY project. While Doug was working, Brenda would keep us company with a cup of tea and a chat. They always made us feel like part of the family."
A small, private family cremation will be held, followed by a service of thanksgiving. Doug is survived by wife Brenda, his children Alyson and Philip, and grandchildren Matthew, Brittany and Elliot.