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Weekly reporter loses cancer battle at age of 24

A weekly newspaper reporter has lost his battle with cancer at the age of 24 – just one month after getting married.

Hemel Hempstead Gazette reporter Jonny Saunders, left, died earlier this month at the Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted from a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma.

His death came shortly after he married long-term girlfriend Adella at Bartle Hall, near Preston, on 6 August after proposing during a trip to Disneyland in Paris.

Jonny, who covered the market town of Tring for the Gazette, had wanted to become a journalist from his schooldays and met Adella while the pair were both studying journalism at the University of Central Lancashire.

He was diagnosed with cancer last year and it was thought that he was winning his battle with the illness until doctors discovered earlier this year that the disease had spread.

Jonny and Adella had planned to get married on 20 August but were advised to bring the date forward by doctors.

His funeral took place last Monday and a Facebook page called Jonathan Saunders Tribute has been set up in his memory where several of his friends and colleagues have posted moving tributes.

Pals at UCLan’s journalism school, where Jonny edited the college magazine, are also organising a college reunion in his memory.

Derbyshire Times reporter Michael Broomhead was among those who left their memories on Jonny’s Facebook page.

He wrote:  “I remember your love of journalism and your superb editorship of the Preston Journal – you could have gone so far in the newspaper industry, pal.”

Hemel Hempstead Gazette editor Adam Hollier said: “I had the pleasure of giving Jonny his first job in journalism as the Tring reporter for the Berkhamsted and Tring Gazette.

“From the start it was very obvious that Jonny had a real passion for the town and an unbreakable passion for Wycombe Wanderers, from which he would return to the office every Monday with tales of defeat and long journeys up the motorway.

“Jonny was a real pleasure to have in the newsroom, he was always upbeat and joking and making tea when things got hectic. As a reporter he was considerate, sensitive and charming – as indeed he was in life.

“I have never seen anyone bear an illness in such grace and in death as in life I am sure he will remain a true inspiration to everyone he met.”

John Francis, group editor of Premier Newspapers, added: “His ready smile and good nature will be very much missed by all in the Gazette newsroom and our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

A story in Johnston Press internal newsletter The Word revealed that Jonny missed the newsroom so much he regularly asked colleagues to email him news items at home.


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  • September 24, 2012 at 10:19 am

    what a tragic story for someone so young to die. His courage puts all our very serious problems in the industry into perspective.

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  • September 24, 2012 at 11:37 am

    One wakes up this morning, moaning about the weather. Then one reads this. No further words necessary …

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  • September 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Here I sit, having been laid off a few months ago from the newspaper I was working at as a reporter, feeling a bit sorry for myself. And then I read this. Feel like a self pitying fool now. RIP Jonny.

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