A FORMER Gazette reporter, who became a well-known figure in Basingstoke, has died aged 83.

Alice Phillips began her career in Armagh, Northern Ireland, where she worked for a local newspaper after studying creative writing at a technical college.

Alice later made the move to become a freelance reporter and wrote for the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail and Irish News. Politically inspired, she was also the founder member of the Labour party in Armagh.

Alice moved to England with her husband William and their children when sectarian trouble was brewing in Ireland.

Her daughter Elaine Phillips said: “It was beginning to have an impact on us and she thought it was safer here. She didn’t want that sort of life for us.”

Alice went on to have six children – Laurence, 56, Bill, 55, Christine, 54, Elaine, 53, Garrod, 48, and Siobhan, 46.

She joined The Gazette in 1973 as a crime reporter, but also wrote a women’s page, special features and the horoscopes, under the name of Ann Tallis.

Christine said: “We were the only ones growing up whose mother worked professionally full-time.”

She left The Gazette in 1990 upon reaching retirement age, but returned a few years later as a freelance reporter.

As part of her work, Alice, a grandmother-of-12 and great-grandmother-of-seven, was invited to write a weekly column about learning to drive.

Christine explained: “A driving instructor with a 100 per cent record said he could teach anyone to drive. He asked The Gazette for a challenge, and they gave him my mother. In the end, he gave up. She was dreadful.”

Elaine added: “They decided the world was safer without her driving in it! But when she stopped writing about the lessons, people were asking her to resume them.

“She did have one test. She went to the test centre and the examiner said ‘do you want to get in the car?’ and she got in the passenger seat! She knew she had failed.”

Alice, who lived in Normanton Road, Oakridge, Basingstoke, eventually stopped freelancing for The Gazette in 1994, to spend more time with her family.

She died at home on January 15 after suffering a brain tumour. Her funeral will be held at Basingstoke Crematorium on January 28, at 2.45pm. Donations can be made to Acorn Hospice, in Worcester, where Alice’s 16-year-old grandson, Larry, visits for day respite from muscular dystrophy.