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Tributes paid after former assistant editor dies at 78

Tributes have been paid to a former assistant editor who spent 35 years at a regional daily, after his death at the age of 78.

Keith Fort, left, worked at the Lancashire Telegraph from 1960 until his retirement in 1995, apart from a short spell at the Reading Evening Post in 1970, and played a key role in launching the now defunct Evening Star newspaper in Burnley.

He began his career as a trainee at the Lancashire Evening Post in 1951, where he helped set up the Wigan Evening Post and Chronicle later that decade.

After completing national service with the RAF, Keith joined the Burnley Express in 1958, before moving to the Lancashire Telegraph in 1960.

Keith died after suffering two strokes in a fortnight, while he had also battled diabetes for a decade.

In an obituary in the Telegraph, deputy editor Alan Simpson wrote: “When I joined the Telegraph as a reporter in 1977 Keith was my chief reporter in the Burnley office. He gave me a lot of guidance that has stood with me throughout my career.

“Keith was an engaging character and wonderful raconteur. He had a wealth of knowledge about East Lancashire, particularly the Burnley area.

“All our thoughts at the Telegraph are with his wife Joan, his sons Graeme and Steven and grandchildren who I know he adored.”

Joan, who was married to Keith for 55 years, said: “He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather. We had such a fantastic retirement. We travelled the world, which allowed Keith to indulge in photography, one of his greatest hobbies. He helped so many people, he had a true Christian spirit.”

Keith played a key role in launching the Burnley-based Evening Star in 1965 as a sister paper to the Telegraph and he held roles including chief reporter and news editor at the new title.

He then moved to the Telegraph’s Blackburn head office in 1979 when he became executive news editor of both titles before becoming assistant editor three years before his retirement.

Keith is survived by wife Joan, and sons Graeme, a former industrial correspondent at the Telegraph, and Steven, who worked for a time as an advertising rep for the paper.

His funeral will take place from 9.45am on 31 May at St John the Evangelist’s Church, Worsthorne, followed by committal at Burnley Crematorium.