The award-winning former editor of three weekly newspapers described as a “legend” of journalism has died after a seven-year battle against cancer.
Eric, who was 67, had been diagnosed with cancer shortly after his 60th birthday, and had moved to Tuscany for treatment with his wife Olivia when hopes of a five-year all-clear were dashed.
Current Chester Chronicle editor Michael Green led the tributes to Eric, pictured below.
He said: “Eric was my editor-in-chief for a number of years until he left the business and I am proud to say he was someone who may have started as a boss but ended up as a friend.
“He achieved so much in journalism during his illustrious career but the lasting impression I will always be left with is that Eric was someone who cared.
“He cared about the profession, he cared about the titles he was responsible for but above all, he cared for the people with whom he worked.
“That caring nature continued to be demonstrated when, after leaving Trinity Mirror but while still battling cancer, he became chairman of Chester Renaissance because he wanted to do what he could to change the city he had come to love for the better.”
Educated in the Cheshire town of Northwich, Eric worked at Liverpool dailies the Echo and the Daily Post and spent 18 months as deputy editor of the South Wales Echo, as well as holding three editorships over the course of his career.
He later held the title of Trinity Mirror editor-in-chief for Cheshire, but stepped down in 2011 after a management restructure placed his job at risk of redundancy.
Oustide journalism, he was a member of the Chester Renaissance Board, eventually becoming its chairman, and also chaired a club which provided social activities for adults with learning difficulties.
In March this year, HTFP reported how Eric had written his debut novel ‘Tosser: Heads You Win Tails You Die’ after being inspired to work on a book following his move to Tuscany.
Neil Benson, editorial director for Trinity Mirror’s regional titles, said: “It’s terribly sad to hear of Eric’s passing.
“Over the many years I knew him, Eric never wavered in his passion and belief in local newspapers.
“He was an excellent editor, who cared deeply about nurturing new talent. There are numerous journalists up and down the country whose careers were given a flying start thanks to Eric’s guidance.
“A few years ago, as he fought back from two major operations, we had a regular catch-up by phone. I was always hugely impressed by his strength of character and his wry humour at a time of real adversity. He will be sadly missed.”
Neil Avery, head of production for Trinity Mirror Cheshire and North Wales, said it was “an honour” to work alongside Eric from a young age in Flintshire and Chester.
He added: “Eric was a great friend, mentor, journalist and editor who fought for the communities his newspapers served. He was the best of men, the bravest of men and he will be sadly missed by countless colleagues. Our thoughts are with his wife Olivia and all his family.”
Eric’s funeral will be held in Italy, and there are plans to hold a memorial service for him in Chester.
His widow Olivia described him as “a wonderful human being – the best – and a great journalist and editor”.