A FORMER editor of the Thurrock Gazette has died. Andy Lever died at his home in Grays on Saturday morning.
He edited the paper for a number of years, before going on to become a senior press officer at Thurrock Council.
Mr Lever had been battling ill health for several years.
For the past 18 months, he worked on and contributed to the Thurrock Independent, leading and helping the paper with investigations into various council issues and planned NHS changes.
Former editor of Thurrock Gazette, Neil Speight praised Andy Lever as a colleague and as a friend.
Mr Speight said: “I took over from Andy at the Thurrock Gazette in 2004 and he was so helpful. Since then I go two know him and respect him when he worked for Thurrock Council in their press team but I also got to know him as a dear dear friend.
“He also worked with me on the Thurrock Independent and that reminded us of his value as a journalist who was decimated to seeking out the truth. I will miss him dearly.
Current Thurrock Gazette editor Gary Pearson worked with Mr Lever for years.
He told the Gazettes “Andy was a real character, that’s for sure.
“I remember being a fresh faced trainee at the Gazette when he was editor. He wore cowboy boots, smoked cigars (in the office) and didn’t mind shaking things up with those in authority.
“Not the sort of guy you forget in a hurry. “Rest in peace Andy, you’ll be missed.”
Politicians have also praised him.
Former mayor of Thurrock, Carl Morris said: “Andy was special, kind, loyal, generous, funny and a Saint – he supported Southampton! I am so sad at news of his death. He was a wise counsel and a longstanding and loyal friend, I will miss him – my thoughts with Brenda and his family.”
Former leader of Thurrock Council, cllr John Kent said: “Andy was such a good journalist. He could work a lightning pace. He also worked well as a Thurrock Council press officer and had the ability to maintain good relationships between the council and all their partners (including the press).
“Above all else, he was a very kind man. My thoughts are with Brenda and his family.