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Former weekly editor dies aged 50

A former weekly newspaper editor who left the profession to do an art degree has died suddenly at the age of 50.

Deborah Williams, left, was editor of the St Albans Observer and its sister paper, the St Albans Review from 2001 until 2004.

At the time of her death she worked part-time in the press office at St Albans District Council which she combined with working towards a degree in art at Amersham College.

She died suddenly on July 18 after collapsing at her home.

Deborah began her journalistic career in 1978 when she joined the Hemel Hempstead Gazette as a junior reporter. After a period spent travelling she joined the St Albans Observer as a reporter in 1985 before moving to Australia for several years where she worked on the Manly Daily.

She returned to the UK in 1993 and worked as deputy news editor on the Herts Advertiser and in the press office of St Albans council for the first time before returning to her old paper as news editor in 1998 and editor from 2001.

Paying tribute to her this week, Daniel Goodwin, chief executive of St Albans council, said: “Deborah provided valuable support to the council’s communications team for nearly three years as she combined media relations work with her artistic endeavours.

“All officers and councillors who worked with her admired her true professionalism, candid advice and lively personality. Deborah will be sadly missed.”

Peter Wilson-Leary, group editor of Newsquest Hertfordshire and Middlesex, which includes the St Albans Review, worked closely with Deborah during her editorship and said he was struck by her passion and professionalism.

He added: “Although Deborah was a news editor at heart and just loved it when a top story came the newspaper’s way, she went on to master the many other aspects of the editor’s role.

“Everything Deborah did she did to a high standard, setting a tremendous example for all who worked with her.”

Deborah, who lived in Hemel Hempstead, leaves her mother and father Edna and Ken Williams, sister and brother-in-law Brenda and Peter Kerr, niece Brooke and nephew Todd. Her funeral will be held on August 4.

  • You can leave your memories of Deborah at her Lasting Tribute page.