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Weekly reporter who defied disability dies aged 34

A journalist who defied a serious disability to work as a weekly newspaper reporter for nearly 13 years has died aged 34.

Paul Peterson, left, suffered from muscular dystrophy and dilated cardiomyopathy yet went on to build a successful career as a reporter on East London weekly the Yellow Advertiser.

Known to colleagues as ‘wheels’ on account of his use of an electric wheelchair, he covered the notorious Danielle Jones murder case in 2002 and won awards for his campaigning work on disability access issues.

Paul, who lived in Corringham, died from heart failure in Basildon Hospital last Wednesday.

Yellow Advertiser editor Mick Ferris said:  “Paul was still working and submitting stories for the paper two days before he passed away.

“My fondest memories of him will be the irreverent way he and his workmates refused to let his condition define him as a person, and as their friend.

“He was every inch one of the gang and the whole department feels his loss very deeply.

“Our condolences, of course, go to his loving parents, Anne and Trevor, and brother Lee.”

Paul joined the YA in December 2001 having gained a 2.1 degree in media studies at the University of East London.

His “Access for All” campaign at the paper received an accolade at the Shepherd Neame Media Awards in 2005 and the following year he won the Rachel Middleton Memorial Award at Thurrock Council’s Civic Awards for his community work.

He worked closely with Disability Essex and until recently had been volunteer governor at Basildon Hospital.

Paul was also known for his humour and outrageous fancy dress costumes, turning up at a birthday party as a Dalek and at at his own 30th birthday as Benny, the car from the film Roger Rabbit.

Paul’s funeral will be held at Pitsea Crematorium on Wednesday 13 August. He has requested that people wear bright colours rather than the traditional black.

Any donations in his memory should made to the Muscular Dystrophy campaign at


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  • August 8, 2014 at 8:17 am

    A short but rich and fulfilled life – he packed more into those 34 years than many people do in six or seven decades. RIP Paul, your family will miss you but they will have so many happy memories to sustain them.

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  • August 8, 2014 at 8:36 am

    A life led to the full unconstrained by physical challenges, convention and perceptions, and an inspiration to fellow professionals.

    I am sure Paul will be missed, but he will not be forgotten.

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  • August 8, 2014 at 11:09 am

    My deepest condolences to the family of my fellow journalist Paul. I didn’t know him but I sure wish I had. His story will remain an inspiration to me and serves to boost my pride in our profession.

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