Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner has paid tribute to writer and sub-editor Simon Ricketts following his death aged 50 on Saturday.
Ricketts began his career on the Watford Observer before moving to the Daily Mail, the Independent and finally the Guardian, where he said it was always his ambition to work.
Ricketts suffered from cancer of the stomach and pancreas and announced in a blog post in December 2016 that it was terminal.
Reflecting on his life, he wrote: “I have worked for my local newspaper that l loved, and for now I (will continue to) work for the national newspaper it was always my ambition to join. I’ve been very, very lucky.”
Viner said: “Simon was a wonderful Guardian journalist whose warmth and wit found a wide and appreciative audience on social media.
“He was an excellent, committed editor as well as a fun and loyal colleague. He maintained a fierce, gentle humanity in the face of great suffering. He will be deeply missed by everyone at the Guardian.”
Ricketts’ death was announced on Twitter by his partner, the screenwriter Andrea Gibb, on Saturday.
She wrote: “I’m so sad to let you know that our beloved Simon died earlier today.
“He endured a great deal over the past year but he was Simon N Ricketts till the end – stubborn, funny, brave, kind and loving. He had the heart of a lion and we loved him very much.”
Gibbs later added: “In and around all this sadness, The Guardian have been amazing. They’ve treated Simon with such compassion and respect throughout his long illness.
“He died a Guardian journalist and that meant everything to him.”
Former Watford Observer colleagues were among those paying tribute to Ricketts on Twitter, where he had gained a huge following.
Ian Wilkerson, now of the Racing Post, tweeted: “Simon Ricketts was a great mate and a great colleague. I’ll remember all the great times we had at the Watford Observer.
“Everything that’s been written over the last few days shows how much he was loved and how much of a hole he’s left behind. A true inspiration.”
In a tweet, the Watford Observer described Ricketts’ death as a “sad day for journalism”.
The hashtags #SimonRicketts and #BangingOut – a tradition of journalists banging desks as colleagues leave a title – were both trending on Twitter on Saturday night as a result of the number of tributes being posted.
It came after Ricketts’ final blog post, published on 5 December, said he hoped “at some near time in some near place, even if it is inside your minds, some of you will have a little ‘banging out’ ceremony for me. I’d like that. I’d really like that”.
Among journalists to pay tribute to Ricketts were the BBC media editor Amol Rajan, Guardian columnist Sali Hughes and Huffpost UK political editor Paul Waugh.
Wonder what Simon Ricketts, who has died, would have said and tweeted about trending in the UK. Something instinctively clever, warm, humble and funny no doubt. One of the greats, and the best of blokes. The wisdom he spread should be an education for us all, just as he intended. https://t.co/6oiVzr5fgB
— Amol Rajan (@amolrajan) December 29, 2018
Heartbroken about Simon Ricketts. His good humour, generosity and grace in the face of relentless personal injustice and discomfort was awe inspiring. He was lovely. And a brilliant writer who changed how I thought and felt about life. A horrible loss, but an extraordinary legacy
— Sali Hughes (@salihughes) December 29, 2018
— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) December 29, 2018
Raising a glass tonight to Simon Ricketts. I saw him last at a wedding. He looked amazing and hugged me and that’s how I’ll remember him. Without this place he’d have been an old mate of an old mate. Instead it feels like we hung out every day. Uplifting to have known him. Cheers
— Hugo Rifkind (@hugorifkind) December 29, 2018
Picture: Twitter/Simon N Ricketts