Colin Margerison, who has died at 60 after a long illness, began his newspaper career almost as an afterthought.
He had just left school in his home town of Blackburn, Lancashire, and was working as a shop assistant while he decided what to do with the rest of his life. Then his father, a printer at the weekly Blackburn Times, spotted an opportunity.
The paper had employed a string of trainees who had failed to make the grade, so Margerison Senior suggested they try out his son. Colin made an immediate impression – and a highly successful 42-year career in journalism was under way.
From the Blackburn Times, he eventually moved to the Lancashire Evening Telegraph features department, before taking his first step towards Fleet Street by moving his young family down to Hemel Hempstead, where he joined the Evening Echo in the early Seventies.
His big break arrived with a job on the Daily Express, where he soon gained a reputation for plain speaking. When passed over for a promotion, he told the incomer who had got the job: ‘Congratulations, I think we will work well together. But I have to tell you, that job should have been mine.”
Colin got the position next time round, one of several promotions in more than 10 years at the Express. He was a distinguished chief sub and eventually became deputy features editor.
In 1990, he moved to The Mail on Sunday, where he worked in the production department first under Phil Bullen, and then as deputy production editor to Nigel Thomas, whom he succeeded after his death in 2002.
Colin brought a combination of flair, technical expertise and attention to detail to a crucial role on the MoS. His grace and stoicism as ill health took hold towards the end of his time at the paper won the immense admiration of his colleagues.
Away from the office, Colin was not someone to idle his time away. Not only did he build his own house, but when that project was complete, he created a sports car from a kit – a monster somewhere between a Morgan and the Batmobile.
Colin leaves a widow, Lyn, daughter Nicky, 39, son Giles, 37, and two grandchildren. He met Lyn while youth hostelling in the Lake District – he was 17 at the time, she was a year younger.
Mail on Sunday editor Peter Wright said: ‘Colin will be remembered by his many friends and colleagues as a talented, engaging and generous man. He will be sadly missed.”
Colin’s funeral was held at Mortlake Crematorium, Richmond on Monday.