A FORMER Adver employee responsible for putting more people in print than any reporter has died at the age of 93.

Tom Ruddle, who died on March 1 after following a bleed on the brain, managed the printing presses at the Swindon Advertiser's former home on Victoria Road over the course of his 38-year career.

He joined the Adver as a machine assistant in 1950 and since 1964 was the machine room manager, being responsible for overseeing the printing of the paper until he retired in 1988.

A parting gift with a front page of Tom on the front, a tradition which continues to this day, estimates that during his time as manager some 400 million copies of the Evening Advertiser and roughly 50 million copies of the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald went over the presses.

Before his long career he also trained as a radio operator for the Wellington Bombers in the RAF soon after World War Two.

"He didn't ever see any combat, fortunately, he was too late, he was being trained as a rear gunner," his son David said.

"I think he enjoyed work, he was well respected by all the people that worked for him. He was a proper gentlemen my dad.

"I've met quite a few of the people who he worked with over the years and they all said the same thing about him. That he was brilliant to work with."

His grandson Richard said: "He used to love it there, they all used to say he was a friendly and amusing chap, known for wearing his newspaper hats which they used to make on the floor."

Attesting to his good nature under the pressure of the daily print runs his colleague Syd Fawell said at his retirement ceremony: "Tom has never lost his temper in all the time I have known him."

Don Smith, who would take over from Tom in 1988, said: "I have worked with Tom for 19 years and I have never heard him say a harsh word to anyone."

He son David added: "He was basically a family man, there were four of us, and loads of grandchildren to keep him busy.

"He didn't have many hobbies, he used to go up to see Swindon Town FC when he could, it was mainly looking after his family and going to work."

At the time of his leaving party, where co-workers handed him a plaque containing nameplates from the side of the old printing press, he said: "I plan to spend a lot of time with my four children and ten grandchildren.

He added: "I feel like I started only yesterday."

Tom leaves behind four children, sons Stephen, Paul and David, and daughter Sue La Motta, and wife Daphne.