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Clare Thomson obituary: The former Bulletin writer drew on her myriad interests to enlighten readers

23:21 10/07/2023

Clare Thomson, a journalistic powerhouse who dominated the pages of The Bulletin during its heyday in the 1990s, has suffered a fatal heart attack aged 58 at her home in Harlesden, north-west London. 

Clare joined The Bulletin in 1991, the year that her book, The Singing Revolution: A Political Journey Through the Baltic States, was published. The daughter of a Scottish father and an Estonian mother, Clare was always passionate about her Estonian heritage and indeed about the European Union as a whole. For her, Brexit was a terrible mistake, or, as she was more likely to put it, a !*#&@! balls-up.

During her decade as a staff writer on The Bulletin, Clare wrote on subjects from pets to Prozac, mussels to music. She drew on her myriad interests (she read English at Cambridge, was a gifted pianist, loved travel and, above all, people) to enlighten and entertain The Bulletin's thousands of readers.

Clare Thompson

She had a huge talent for writing about gritty social issues, and you wouldn’t see her for days while she got to the bottom of that week’s article about health issues, asylum seekers, the marginalised, languages at risk of disappearing, the homeless.

On the lighter side, Clare loved to unearth weird and wonderful tales from far-flung corners of Belgium and at the time there were few people, including Belgians, who knew as much about Mechelen or Malmedy. Her coverage of the Passport for Pets saga and European Commissioner Chris Patten's dogs, Whisky and Soda, kept readers gripped for months. Her regular columns included Parishscope, the indispensable guide to all things local in Brussels, and Cheap Eats, which became the Bible of diners wanting a slap-up meal for two at a reasonable price. It was in this column that Clare introduced her latest dinner companion, the real love story of her life, Matthew Davis, who had joined The Bulletin as production editor. They married after moving to London in 1999 and had two daughters, Rosa and Ella, now in their twenties.

Clare Thompson

Clare had the ability to brighten any room at The Bulletin that she walked into, and took the time to care about people, not just in the editorial department but throughout the publishing house. She had an impish mischievousness about her, and was never scared of saying what she thought about an issue or calling someone out - including the editor. She was immensely inclusive and frequently brought together groups whose common denominator was being away from family. There was many a Eurovision Song Contest evening - with Clare cheering for Estonia - and musical soirées featuring Clare on piano or rallying people to see concerts and inviting them back to her small apartment for supper.

Clare's life post-Bulletin revolved around Matthew and their two girls, mainly in London. She maintained her links with Estonia, becoming a frequent visitor to Tallinn. She railed against Putin's invasion of Ukraine and feared for her beloved Baltic states. She was a school governor, taught French and piano for many years, played the organ at her local church and was hoping to take up a job as a nursery teacher when she met her untimely death.

Her funeral service will take place at 11.45am on Monday 17 July at All Souls Church, London NW10 4UJ.


Written by Sarah Wolff and Ben Tarring (former Bulletin colleagues of Clare Thomson)