Hartlepool Mail’s head of news Paul Watson has died of a heart attack aged 50.
A story on the Mail’s website said the paper had been inundated with messages and tributes since his death – and that yesterday three people’s lives were saved in transplant operations from organs donated by Watson “in what was a last selfless act”.
He joined the Mail as news editor in 2007 after a decade at the Press Association, and before that worked at the Sunderland Echo.
In 2009 he was named North East Journalist of the Year at the Cordner Awards
Hartlepool Mail editor Joy Yates said:
The Hartlepool Mail newsroom 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.
He leaves behind his long-term partner Pauline Scott, mum Elizabeth O’Brien, sister Pat Watson, and nephew Jordan Watson.
Paul was a very special, wonderful person who touched many people’s lives, whether it was on a professional or personal level. We will miss him terribly.
On behalf of myself, his mum, Pat and Jordan, we would like to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and messages, love and prayers we’ve received, not just for him but for our welfare too. It really is much appreciated.
The Mail reported that just a few days before his death on Sunday, Watson had left a message at a dedication ceremony to encourage people to become organ donors.
It read: “There is nothing more precious than the gift of life. Organ donors help to make that possible.”
The Mail said he was "so moved by the event" that he discussed it with his wife and "asked her to make a promise that should anything happen to him, she would agree to donation".
It resulted in three people’s lives being saved in transplant operations.