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Former weekly news editor loses cancer fight at 59

A former weekly news editor has lost her battle with cancer at the age of 59.

Ava Soe, left, joined the Rochdale Observer as a reporter in 1996 and went on to work for a number of sister titles in Greater Manchester Weekly Newspapers, which has now become MEN Media, including the Accrington Observer, Rossendale Free Press and the Middleton Guardian.

Ava married her journalist partner Ian Campbell, who previously worked on the Rochdale Observer and the Middleton Guardian, in July after the pair ‘eloped’ to Gretna Green and they managed to keep it secret from family and friends for more than a month.

Ava had suffered from ovarian cancer for a number of years and died last month at the Marie Curie Hospice in Liverpool.

A tribute has been paid by Middleton & North Manchester Guardian editor Gerry Sammon in an obituary in the Manchester Evening News.

He said: “Ava joined the Observer after winning a Guardian Bursary and her talent was immediately spotted. She was the fairest person I knew and had a strong sense of integrity that she put into use daily.

“Her investigations constantly got under the skin of authority, to the benefit of the ‘silent majority’ she stood to defend. In the office she was often semi-jokingly referred to as ‘Princess Ava’ on account of her background as a member of the former Burmese royal family in exile.

“She always laughed it off, but many of her colleagues were aware of the struggles she faced in life. Ava will be sadly missed by all who knew her.”

Before becoming a journalist, Ava had a diverse working life which included time running a beauty salon in Sutton Coldfield, as an archaeologist in the West Midlands and working in the philately department of Phillips the Auctioneers in London.

After joining the Rochdale Observer, she also played a role in the title’s community radio station, using skills she had learned as a producer for a similar station in London.

Ava then spent a short time as a press officer for Leeds City Council before returning to MEN Media and working for a number of titles in the group, including the Accrington Observer and the Rossendale Free Press.

She joined the Middleton Guardian in 2003 where she was promoted to become news editor and played a role in a number of campaigns including the successful fight to save St John’s Primary School in Thornham.

Ava was first diagnosed with cancer in 2004 and, following surgery and chemotherapy, she returned to work where she enjoyed the mentoring young reporters in both the Middleton office and at the North East Manchester Advertiser in Beswick.

She was living in Liverpool at this point and eventually found the daily commute too much, leaving the Guardian to become a family support worker with Liverpool City Council

Ava’s cancer returned in 2010 and she lost her battle with the disease last month.

In her spare time she enjoyed floristry, learning to play the saxophone, writing short stories and jewellery-making.

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