Tributes have been paid after a regional daily night editor described as the “heart and soul” of his paper died suddenly at the age of 61.
Tony Martin, left, who worked at the Liverpool Echo for more than 30 years, was found dead at his home on Sunday night.
He joined the title in 1979 as the paper’s Crosby and Bootle district reporter and progressed through a number of roles to become night editor.
Said Alastair: “Tony Martin was the heart and soul of the Echo. Time after time he’d save the paper and me by spotting an error or pointing out a flaw in a plan.
“As a true Liverpudlian and a reader at heart, he knew better than anyone what readers expected from their local paper.
“I would see him walk into the office every afternoon and I’d know that everything would be OK. He is as near as I have seen to irreplaceable.”
Trinity Mirror Merseyside Weeklies executive editor Andrew Edwards added: “Tony had an unbreakable love for the Echo and a real sense of responsibility around everything he did.”
Tony started out in journalism in 1976 as a trainee reporter at the Weekly News series based in Widnes, after time working on the student newspaper while at Leeds University.
He then become chief reporter of the Liverpool Weekly News and then a sub editor, while also working for Radio City on its Saturday sports coverage.
After joining the Echo as a reporter, he covered many major stories, including the Toxteth Riots, before moving to the paper’s production team in 1984 as assistant chief sub editor.
He then went on to become deputy chief sub editor and then the paper’s night editor, who was responsible for putting the paper ‘to bed’ and handling late-breaking news.
Former Echo chief photographer Steve Shakeshaft said he remembered working on an house fire with Tony when he was covering the Bootle area.
He said: “We’d been sent to a house fire where a little dog had raised the alarm by pulling the sheets off his sleeping master and everyone got out safely.
“Tony and I thought it would make a good picture to present the dog with its own VC (victorious canine) medal. Tony made a medal with some foil and ribbon to put round the dog’s neck. It made that night’s front page.”
Bootle MP Joe Benton also paid tribute, saying he had been interviewed many times by Tony.
He said: ‘’What always struck me was Tony’s impressive grasp of issues and detail. He had a real flair for local government coverage but more importantly, he was a very warm human being who had a genuine empathy with people who were less fortunate than the majority.”
Tony was a devout Catholic and he enjoyed reading, sport and also wrote short stories, while in his youth he was a keen squash player and cross-country runner.