TRIBUTES have been paid to a former sports editor of the Gazette who has died aged 83.

Howard Walker worked for the paper and its sister publication the Essex County Standard for nearly 40 years.

Mr Walker came to Colchester in the late 1950s after serving as an apprentice at the Harrogate Advertiser and Yorkshire Post.

He became a well-known and respected figure on the touchlines covering football as well as golf, cricket, cycling and darts.

Mr Walker reported on Colchester United’s home and away games over his career, working with and interviewing U’s managers such as Dick Graham, Jim Smith and Jock Wallace on a regular basis.

He died last month at Colchester Hospital.

His former colleague and former Essex County Standard editor Peter Hills paid tribute to “true professional” Mr Walker.

He said: “He and I first met in the summer of 1965 when I came to Colchester to sports edit the Essex County Standard and Tuesday Gazette.

“Five years later we planned, and brought to fruition the sports section of the new Evening Gazette.

“A few months later he took over when I moved to the group news desk.

“In later years we joined up together again when I was editing the County Standard and Howard contributed features.

“Throughout our time working together he was a perfect partner.

“He was utterly reliable, hard-working and a true professional with a wickedly dry sense of humour.

“This mostly stemmed from personal experiences added to his amazing knowledge of all things sporting.

“It was a rare privilege to have known him, worked alongside him and been able to call him a friend.”

Mr Walker leaves behind four sons and three grandchildren.

His funeral will be held at Colchester Crematorium on Wednesday January 15 from 11am.