He worked for seven editors!
Mike Balmforth, who died suddenly at the beginning of December after fighting long-term illness, was one of Yachting Monthly’s longest serving writers. He joined the magazine in the 1960s and recalled his early days in an article published in our centenary issue (May 2006), entitled ‘What the Dickens!’
‘Only a thorough grounding in Dickens’ London could have prepared me,’ he wrote. ‘Yes, there was an electric light and telephones. ‘But one felt they had not been there long!’ In those days the office was in Clements Inn, overlooking the Law Courts in The Strand. Maurice Griffiths had just retired after 40 years as editor, to be succeeded by Des Sleightholme.
The rest of the ‘crew’ in those days included Murlo Primrose (in accounts), later to become Mrs Angus Primrose, and Brian Pilcher, later to become a well-known marine PR man.
Mike wrote many cruising articles for YM over the years, as well as being our Scottish correspondent for the Around the Coast news section. He worked for seven editors.
In a tribute from the British Marine Federation, of which Mike was president of Scotland BMF, the organisation’s national president, Mike Cook, said Mike Balmforth had given a life-time contribution to the marine industry and the promotion of sailing and boating in Scotland.
He epitomised the term ‘giving something back to the industry’ through his long involvement with BMF Scotland as a committee member, Secretary, Treasurer and latterly President.
Mike’s career spanned yacht broking, marine equipment distribution, journalism and writing books. He started as a yacht broker with Caledonian Yacht Services in Glasgow. He then formed a partnership to provide a wholesale parts and marine equipment service in Scotland called Marinac.
Later he joined the committee of the Clyde Cruising Club and edited the annual CCC Journal. He was also appointed a director of Sail Scotland, which encourages other UK and foreign sailors to visit our shores.
Alistair Vallance, editor of Scotland’s Yachting Life, said: ‘Mike’s work will be guaranteed to live on in his publications like Cruising Scotland, Cruising Ireland and the annual comprehensive moorings guide Welcome Anchorages.’
In recent years Mike endured a quadruple heart by-pass and suffered from a debilitating kidney malfunction that required overnight hospitalisation and dialysis every 48 hours. He had to sell his yacht, Greenheart, a Dawn 39, but despite his incapacitating condition, he remained a wonderful example of total dedication to a cause – Scottish sailing.
Mike is survived by his wife Alison, sons Des and Robin, both of whom sail, and three grandchildren. His funeral will be held at 3pm on Thursday, December 13 at Greenock Crematorium and there will be a gathering afterwards at the Royal Gourock Yacht Club.