Sunderland lecturer and veteran journalist loses battle with cancer

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TRIBUTES have been paid to a Wearside university lecturer after his death, aged 63.

Kevin Overbury, who has died after a long illness, worked extensively on local and national newspapers before becoming a journalism lecturer at the University of Sunderland.

Brought up in Colchester, Essex, his passion for newspapers began at an early age when he and a friend printed a small paper for their local housing estate.

He studied at Leeds University before returning to his home town to work as a reporter.

The keen walker loved the North of England and returned to Leeds in 1975 to work as a sub-editor, copy-taster and designer on the Yorkshire Post, where he met and married fellow sub-editor Karen Simpson in 1982.

In 1985, he moved to the Sunday Telegraph, where he was chief sub of the colour magazine.

He went on to work as a freelance sub on a series of national newspapers, including The Times, the Financial Times and the Daily Mail.

He also worked on Robert Maxwell’s ill-fated London Daily News.

He was deputy editor of The Journal from 1987 until 1992 and was a key member of the team who redesigned the paper when it moved from broadsheet to tabloid.

Kevin left The Journal to set up a PR and marketing company, The Full Works, which he ran for more than 14 years.

His clients included Relate, the Hancock Museum, in Newcastle, and Northumbria Coalition Against Crime.

But his true love was newspapers and after 
several years of being a visiting lecturer at the University of Sunderland he took up a full-time role.

Kevin became co-ordinator of journalism programmes and ensured that they all had NCTJ accreditation.

Chris Rushton, head of journalism and public relations at the University of Sunderland, said: “Kevin’s enthusiasm and commitment helped make the university one of the biggest 
providers of undergraduate journalism education in the UK.

“Many of our graduates now have successful careers in journalism and PR thanks to his mentoring and personal support.”

Kevin was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in January 2010 and despite an apparently successful operation, the cancer returned last year. He died at his home in Ponteland, Northumberland, at the weekend.

He is survived by wife Karen and children Michelle, 27, and Philip, 23.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho