Sir – I was sad to read in your pages that Peter Sykes had died: his tall figure and his northern dry humour loom large in my memories of working at the Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times in the late 1970s/early 1980s.

In fact, it was due to Peter’s willingness to take a punt on a young unknown that I came to work there at all.

As a tongue-tied would-be reporter, I travelled up from Cardiff for an interview during which I remained almost entirely silent.

It was entirely my good fortune that Peter knew the tutor on my journalism course, and telephoned him to see if I was really such an idiot as I appeared to be. As deputy — later, editor — of The Oxford Times, he clearly took pleasure in training the next generation of journalists. I am sure I am not the only one who will always be grateful to him for that.

Sally Dugan (née Duncan), Brightwell-cum-Sotwell