TRIBUTES have poured in for an award-winning journalist who has died at the age of 50.
Sunderland-born Paul Watson, the Hartlepool Mail’s Head of News, died on Sunday morning in Sunderland Royal Hospital after suffering a huge heart attack last week.
The former Sunderland Echo reporter joined the Mail in 2007, having spent a decade working for the Press Association.
His portfolio of work saw him crowned North East Journalist of the Year at the prestigious Cordner Awards in 2009.
Away from work, Paul was well read and enjoyed spending time with long-term partner Pauline and his family.
He also had a passion for Celtic FC.
Hartlepool Mail Editor Joy Yates said: “The Mail has been in total shock at the extremely sad loss of Paul. The newsroom will never be the same again.
“Paul was hugely popular with his colleagues and with everyone he met through his role as Head of News.
“Paul didn’t just make contacts, he made friends.
“He was proactive within the Hartlepool community and was proud to work with me on our Pride of Hartlepool and Best of Health awards.
“He will be missed by all those who had the privilege to meet him.
“My sincerest, deepest thoughts are with Paul’s partner Pauline and his family.
“Paul, it was an honour to know you.”
Press Association Newswire Editor Teilo Colley said: “In almost 10 years at the Press Association, Paul was the consummate professional, always fast, fair and accurate in his reporting and always willing to go the extra mile in pursuit of the story.
“News of his sudden death has shocked his former PA colleagues in the north and elsewhere. He will be missed.”
Many of the people Paul dealt with on a daily basis got in touch with the Mail newsdesk to pass on their condolences, highlighting the esteem in which he was held.
They included Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond, who said: “Paul was an outstanding journalist who always conducted himself with the highest integrity.
“He was a real news man who was very thorough and fair in the way he reported key issues affecting people in the town.
“He will be missed and our thoughts at this moment are with his family and friends.”