The local sporting community has paid tribute to Hertfordshire Mercury sports reporter Lew Gladych, who died this week, aged 36.
Gladych, who lived all his life in Hertford, touched the hearts of all he came into contact with during his 13-year career on the paper and was described as "a kindly soul" and "a dear friend". He passed away peacefully on Monday night at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welwyn Garden City after suffering liver and kidney failure. Local football clubs have postponed games and organised one-minute silences as a mark of respect.
Mercury sports editor Andrew Franczak said: "His encyclopaedic knowledge of non-league football, and many other sports, was drawn on by every editor in the Herts & Essex newspaper series.
"Lew had a fantastic ability to keep a cool head under pressure, knocking out stories in rapid time without compromising accuracy. Proofing pages before they went to press, he was my eyes and ears, forever correcting my mistakes.
"He was so talented in his field, it almost goes without saying that he could have walked into any national newspaper and got a job as a sports writer – but he chose not to, and their loss was the Mercury’s gain."
Gary Matthews, managing director of Herts & Essex Newspapers, employed Gladych at the Mercury.
"He was comfortably the best sports reporter I have come across," he said. "Lew was one of the most charming people I’ve ever met and he was loved by everyone.
"His legacy will be that of a genuinely lovely man, an excellent sports reporter and, for 13 years, a good friend. The world is a much poorer place for his passing."