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Former daily news editor and BBC pioneer dies aged 48

Roger BrysonA former daily news editor who went on to become a founding member of the BBC website’s English news team has died aged 48.

Tributes have been paid to Roger Bryson, pictured left, previously of the Liverpool Daily Post, who passed away after a two year-long battle with cancer.

Roger was hospitalised in May 2013 essential thrombocythemia – a blood disorder that caused a series of blood clots, resulting in complications and emergency bowel surgery.

He returned to work eight months later, but developed further problems and was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer before passing away last month.

Born in Liverpool, the father-of-two began his career in the late 1980s after obtaining his NCTJ pre-entry certificate in newspaper journalism from Lancashire Polytechnic, now the University of Central Lancashire, in Preston.

After freelancing for a number of papers including the Evening Leader in Wrexham and Chester Tonight, he gained his first staff job in 1990 at the Oldham Evening Chronicle as a news reporter, rising to the rank of assistant news editor.

In 1995 he returned to his hometown to join the Daily Post, where three years later he was promoted to news editor of its Merseyside and Cheshire editions.

Former colleagues described Roger as “probably the hardest working person on the paper” who was regularly in the office late into the evening when other bosses had gone.

Finlo Rohrer, a former Daily Post reporter who now works at the BBC, said: “He really was a top bloke. Probably the funniest news editor I ever had and a laugh outside work, except on the tennis court – when he was very serious.”

In 2001 he joined the BBC, when he was brought in as an experienced news editor to help the News website improve its use of the journalism coming out of its own regional centres.

It was also where he met his wife Julia, a fellow journalist, with whom he had two children – Sam, six, and Florence, two.

Eileen Murphy, now the head of BBC Online across England, said of her first day at the corporation: “He was the first one up out of his chair when I walked in the room with his inimitable welcome of ‘Do you want a brew?’

“I needed that kindness and he’d spotted it.”

Mark McGregor, BBC News Online’s England editor, said: “As everyone who works for the BBC’s regional digital teams knows, Roger was very good at spotting things – brilliant stories, key lines, feature ideas – nothing escaped that curiosity.

“And once piqued, it would lead to that phone call from Birmingham, or later Liverpool, to talk through the angles that interested him.

“But this was all interspersed with questions about your wellbeing, your family or what had been going on in your life.”

“To be “Rogered”, was to receive the forensic gaze of one of the best subs in the business, delivered with a natural curiosity and appetite for news that left the rest of us feeling inadequate by comparison.”

He added: “In a text message exchange with me, he broached the subject of his death with a typically matter-of-fact enquiry about post-event admin.

“For me it was a shock, and I expressed sorrow that he was ‘dealing with this kind of thing’.

“He shot straight back with: ‘If you think this is bad, next on the list is arranging my funeral. Still… at least I won’t have to be there.'”

The funeral service will be held on Monday at St Luke’s Methodist Church in Hoylake, Wirral, at 12.45. There will be a cremation beforehand which will be family only.

Roger’s family has requested people not to send flowers but instead donate to St John’s Hospice via this link.