A former weekly chief reporter who moved on to work at the BBC has died of cancer at the age of 44.
She moved on to work for the BBC News website, where she became a features writer, and was still filing copy just weeks before her death.
Denise was diagnosed with breast cancer more than a decade before the disease claimed her life and tributes have been paid to her.
Matthew Lewin, then editor of the Ham&High, told the paper: “Denise was the sort of journalist that editors dream about – someone who you could hand a project and know for certain that it would be meticulously researched and impeccably presented, and on time.
“Not for nothing did she win a national journalism award. She was also a beacon of friendliness and good humour in the office.”
After studying at Sunderland University, Denise’s first job was on community radio station Wear FM and she also did intern work at the Sunderland Echo, before landing the role at the Staffordshire Newsletter.
While working at the Ham & High, she was known as a “tenacious” town hall reporter and her coverage of proposed Camden Council library closures received many plaudits.
Denise was the sole reporter of the Ham&High’s then Westminster edition during the infamous “cash for loans” scandal.
She also interviewed stars including Hollywood actor Jude Law and England footballer Gary Lineker.
Emily Banks, who worked as news editor at the paper alongside Denise, said she was a “brilliant journalist” who was “so good at winning over contacts as she was genuine and trustworthy.”
She said: “Denise was nominated for a Newspaper Society award. We went up together for the award ceremony with the company’s managing directors and executives.
“During the dinner, she was a bit nervous and told me she was dreading having to get up on stage to collect her award in front of all these people.
“I reminded her of this at the end of the evening when she was up there leading the stage dancing.”
In 2000, Denise left the Ham & High to join the BBC’s online news service and rose through the ranks to become a senior broadcast journalist at the BBC News website and later a features writer.
Former BBC News website UK editor Gary Duffy said: “You meet some people in your life who touch you in a special way and make an immediate and lasting impact with their warmth, decency, kindness and humour.
“Denise was a person like that and she leaves a wonderful memory for all of us that had the privilege to know and work with her. It was a joy to be her manager.”
Denise, who was a keen supporter of Queens Park Rangers football club, spent her last few weeks surrounded by loved ones at the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead.
She is survived by daughter Mia, her parents Sam and Maureen, her sisters Debbie and Diane, and her brother Alan.