A JOURNALIST from Port Glasgow who used to work at the Tele is now plying his trade more than 6,000 miles away in Cambodia.

Former Greenock Telegraph reporter Alan Kirk is chief sub editor at English language newspaper Khmer Times in the Asian country’s capital, Phnom Penh.

He arrived in the Kingdom of Cambodia last year having spent nearly three decades in Australia.

Alan, 66, said: “Before the Telegraph, I worked on some now defunct weeklies in Glasgow then the Western Gazette in Yeovil and the Birmingham Post.

“After the Tele, it was Sun Pictorial in Melbourne as check sub and cables sub.

“Then 28 years on the West Australian, mostly on foreign desk — the last nine years as foreign editor.

“I was made redundant in October last year and I’m now working as chief sub on the Khmer Times — it’s a great experience.”

Alan, who still has family in Inverclyde including sister Gillian, grew up in Oronsay Avenue and went to Port Glasgow High.

It was during his time at secondary school when he first hit the headlines of the Tele prior to working at the paper from 1982-87.

He was one of 14 Port Glasgow High pupils famously affected by the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War during a school trip.
Alan said: “The aim had been to go to Jordan with the possibility of meeting the king.

“However, we never made it that far.

“Shortly before we left, the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War broke out in June 1967.

“All the borders in the region were sealed.”

The group instead went to Turkey, which was part of the route they were taking to Jordan.

Having already been affected by war, they were then caught up in an earthquake.

In an age without internet, email and hand-held mobile telephones, they were unable to communicate back home and fears were growing for their safety.

Alan said: “We were in Istanbul when it struck and communications were so poor in those days that it was not until we got back to Greece that one of our leaders could send a telegram to say we were safe.

“What the telegram did not say was just how much danger some of us were in.

“We had split into two groups and one group went to the bazaar.

“As luck would have it, I was in one of the vans when the quake hit.

“The suspension must have absorbed the shaking because our group felt nothing. 

“Those who went to the bazaar came back with stories of stalls crashing and spilling gold and silver jewellery all over the passageways.

“Part of a well-known building collapsed on the spot where our groups had met up a day earlier.”

Despite the drama, the adventure is one of Alan’s fondest memories from his teenage years and he is looking to re-connect with anyone else who was there.

He said: “The trip was one of my great formative influences.

“I finally got to visit Israel on a press trip, by chance on the 40th anniversary of the school adventure. 

“It occurs to me that I have never thanked the visionary Ian Barr, the geography teacher who led the expedition.

“It was a pioneering trip back then, well before the internet and email.”

To get in touch with Alan contact the Tele on 01475 558980 or email pjcoulter@greenocktelegraph.co.uk