Tributes have been paid to Eric Langton, one of the area's finest and most respected journalists whose 40-year career included a long spell as editor-in-chief of The Chester Chronicle.
Mr Langton had been battling cancer for some time and passed away on Thursday evening (August 4) in Tuscany, where he had been living with his wife Olivia. He was 67.
Described by Olivia as 'the best and bravest man I have ever known', Mr Langton was viewed as an inspirational figure by those who worked with him during his long career in Cheshire, North Wales and Merseyside.
But his influence spread beyond journalism.
Mr Langton was an active member of Chester Business Club and, following his retirement from journalism in 2011, he became chairman of the Chester Renaissance organisation, working to help change the city for the better with projects such as the 'free after three' parking scheme. A much-loved husband, father and grandfather, he was also chairman of a club providing social activities for adults with learning difficulties.
Chronicle editor Michael Green led the tributes to Mr Langton.
He said: "Eric was my editor-in-chief for a number of years until he left the business and I am proud to say he was someone who may have started as a boss but ended up as a friend.
"He achieved so much in journalism during his illustrious career but the lasting impression I will always be left with is that Eric was someone who cared. He cared about the profession, he cared about the titles he was responsible for but above all, he cared for the people with whom he worked.
"That caring nature continued to be demonstrated when, after leaving Trinity Mirror but while still battling cancer, he became chairman of Chester Renaissance because he wanted to do what he could to change the city he had come to love for the better."
Liverpool Echo editor and editor-in-chief of Trinity Mirror North West and North Wales, Alastair Machray described Mr Langton as a 'hugely-gifted journalist and the finest of colleagues.'
"The world of journalism has lost one of its legends," he said. "Eric was a real pro who knew a story and how to handle it.
"But more than that, he was the heartbeat of any newsroom and loved by all – a joker when humour was needed, a wise counsellor when there were problems.
"When I first became an editor Eric helped me enormously with both advice and encouragement. He became a great editor and the stories about him are endless.''
'A great friend'
Neil Avery, head of production for Trinity Mirror Cheshire and North Wales, said it was 'an honour' to work alongside Mr Langton from a young age in Flintshire and Chester.
He added: "Eric was a great friend, mentor, journalist and editor who fought for the communities his newspapers served. He was the best of men, the bravest of men and he will be sadly missed by countless colleagues.
"Our thoughts are with his wife Olivia and all his family."
Wes Graham was The Chronicle's deputy editor-in-chief for six years under Mr Langton.
He said: "I was proud to serve as Eric's deputy.
"Eric had impeccable editorial and management skills, was totally committed to looking after the best interests of his staff and had a wicked sense of humour. He was a truly inspiring journalist and a great friend.
"I loved and respected the man and I will miss him more than words can express."
Neil Benson, regionals editorial director of The Chester Chronicle's parent company Trinity Mirror, said: "It's terribly sad to hear of Eric's passing.
"Over the many years I knew him, Eric never wavered in his passion and belief in local newspapers.
"He was an excellent editor, who cared deeply about nurturing new talent. There are numerous journalists up and down the country whose careers were given a flying start thanks to Eric's guidance.
"A few years ago, as he fought back from two major operations, we had a regular catch-up by phone. I was always hugely impressed by his strength of character and his wry humour at a time of real adversity. He will be sadly missed."
Carl Wood, regional managing director for Trinity Mirror North West & North Wales Ltd, added: "Journalism has lost one of its greats.
"I will remember Eric for many things – his professionalism, the loyalty and support he always showed to his team and colleagues and the campaigns he drove for the benefit of all of Cheshire's communities. He made a real difference. But most of all I will remember Eric being a great guy and a brave man with a big heart. It was a privilege to know him as a colleague and as a friend."
Chris Walker, regional managing editor for Trinity Mirror North West & North Wales Ltd, said: "I was immensely fond of Eric. Not only was he a great operator, he made me laugh."
Mr Langton grew up in Winsford and was a former pupil of Verdin County Grammar School in Winsford and Sir John Deane's College in Northwich. He went on to forge a long career in journalism, working for the Liverpool Echo and Daily Post. He was editor of the Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News and Flintshire Chronicle before taking on the role of Chester Chronicle editor. He later became editor-in-chief and retired in 2011. During his time with The Chronicle, the newspaper won numerous industry awards.
He moved from Helsby to Tuscany with Olivia to continue his treatment for cancer after hopes of a five-year all clear were dashed.
While he was living there, he wrote his first novel, cheekily titled 'Tosser', which was published earlier this year.
'A wonderful human being'
Mr Langton said at the time that it was a 'bucket list' achievement for him, adding: "I’m not up to bungee jumping off Runcorn Bridge or hover boarding down Mount Kilimanjaro. But most journalists feel they have a book in them so I started my list with that idea.”
Olivia said her husband was 'a wonderful human being – the best - and a great journalist and editor'.
Olivia explained that she would also like him to be remembered as 'the man who changed Chester', as he worked so hard on schemes such as the free after three parking and also the 'Live After Five' initiative aimed at keeping the city vibrant after 5pm.
Mr Langton had previously been married to Liz and had three children – sons Stephen and David, and daughter Kate.
Mr Langton's funeral takes place in Italy on Monday, August 8, and there are plans to hold a memorial service for him in Chester in the near future.