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Obituary: Fleet Street veteran Paul Eccleston who was head of news at Belfast Telegraph in mid-1990s

 

Paul Eccleston died last month
Paul Eccleston died last month

By Staff Reporter

Former Belfast Telegraph head of news Paul Eccleston has died at the age of 67.

He held the position at this newspaper in the mid-1990s, arriving in the city at a time when the peace process was inching slowly forwards, culminating in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

Born in Salford in 1951, he attended Salford Grammar School where at age 16 he decided on a career in journalism.

Like many, his first jobs in the trade were working in local and provincial newspapers before joining the Press Association in 1976 as a reporter.

He took his first job with a UK national newspaper in 1979 when he joined the Manchester staff of the Daily Express.

He later moved to Eddie Shah's mould-breaking Today newspaper, the UK's first colour tabloid.

In 1989 he joined the Daily Mail, and six years later became head of news at the Belfast Telegraph.

He is still remembered fondly in the newsroom.

Feature writer Laurence White, who worked with Mr Eccleston, recalled a skilled, meticulous journalist and a safe pair of hands amid the hustle and bustle of a busy newsroom.

"Paul was a quiet-spoken, friendly man with a strong news sense who took pride in bringing out the best in his staff," Mr White said.

He left the Belfast Telegraph, then still publishing several editions daily in its traditional broadsheet format, to join the Daily Mirror.

In 1997 he took up a post at Fleet Street giant the Daily Telegraph.

He was quickly promoted to executive news editor on the broadsheet, a role in which he nurtured the talents of a new generation of young journalists.

An obituary in that newspaper described him as "an immensely hard-working and exemplary professional, whose kindness earned him great loyalty".

Paul left journalism altogether in 2010 to establish fish2fork.com - a guide to sustainable fish restaurants operating across the UK.

However, he was diagnosed with cancer soon afterwards.

The disease claimed his life last month.

He was a dedicated Manchester United fan, and when a teenager had a trial for his local team Bury. He was also the uncle of actor Christopher Eccleston, who played the ninth incarnation of the Time Lord in the 2005 revival of Doctor Who.

A keen angler, the newsman's ashes will be scattered on Lough Melvin on the Co Fermanagh/Co Leitrim border on what would have been his birthday on July 31.

Paul leaves behind his widow Kelly, daughter Katie, son Conor, and stepsons Lennie and Charlie.

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