Paul had battled cancer of the oesophagus and, after his illness was revealed to be terminal, the National Council for the Training of Journalists named a new award in his honour.
In the early 1980s, he moved from Ipswich to the Eastern Daily Press, in Norwich, where he was news editor for more than two decades before leaving the paper in 2009 as part of an editorial restructure.
He also worked for the Journalism Diversity Fund and was a member of the NCTJ’s journalism exam board from December 2007.
Paul was honoured in 2014 at the NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Conference when he was presented with the chairman’s award for his outstanding contribution to journalism training.
Joanne Butcher, NCTJ chief executive, said: “Paul was an amazing journalist, examiner and trainer who inspired so many trainees to achieve their very best.
“He encouraged young journalists to challenge, champion, campaign, probe and ask the awkward questions. Those journalists and the industry’s training scheme owe so much to Paul and, as well as the award set up by Archant in his honour, are his legacy.
“News back in July that Paul’s cancer was terminal was shocking and heart breaking for everyone close to him. Paul, who was overwhelmed by the support he received, responded with typically good humour.”
Many offers of support for Paul at the time of his illness were met with typically humourous responses including requesting arrangements for West Bromwich Albion to win the Premiership next season, and for him to score a century at Lord’s and a 147 at the Crucible.
Joanne added: “When his cancer was first diagnosed, he said the worst news of all was that hair loss from the invasive treatment would include his moustache.
“When Paul was given the chairman’s award in 2014 the walk-up music we chose was Tina Turner’s simply the best – because he was the best. Paul was one of journalism’s finest trainers and examiners and will be sorely missed.
“All of us at the NCTJ who worked with Paul send our heartfelt sympathies to his dear wife Christine, his children, grandchildren, family, friends and colleagues.”
The Paul Durrant Award will be presented annually by the NCTJ to the candidate from the East of England who gives the best performance in the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ).
The winner of the award, sponsored by Archant, will receive £250 and a certificate of achievement.
Speaking to the EDP at the time the new award was announced, Paul said: “It’s truly humbling to discover that my industry wants to mark my death in this way. The only condition is that it’s dropped once the next generation starts asking, ‘Paul Who?’
“I have passionately believed that proper training is the bedrock to good journalism, and that trying to uphold our values and standards – objectively, legally and ethically – is what separates the real pros from the rest.
“Whatever the platform, we need to champion our communities and challenge authority.
“Training and gold-standard industry qualifications give us all the confidence to do that, and hopefully go some way to restoring the public’s faith and trust in believing that real journalism matters.”