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Former regional journalist loses cancer battle aged 57

debbie-smithA former regional journalist has died aged 57 after a three-year battle with breast cancer.

Tributes have been paid to Debbie Smith, left, who served as chief reporter on the Aldershot News before going on to work for several national newspapers as well as for ITV’s Teletext service.

For the past 18 years she has been a director of her husband Paul’s public relations agency Paul Smith Associates.

The mother-of-two died earlier this month and her funeral, conducted by her younger brother the Rev Alan Comfort, took place yesterday.

Paul told the Haslemere Herald: “Debbie was a brilliant writer and an intelligent and highly talented journalist who specialised across a wide range of subjects from crime reporting to health, finance, travel and showbiz.

“First and foremost though she was a devoted wife, marvellous mother to our two girls and the most loyal and caring of friends who was always great fun to be around.

“She leaves a void in our lives that will be impossible to fill but everyone who came into contact with Debbie during her all too short life will have nothing but the fondest of memories of her.”

Debbie, whose maiden name was Comfort, worked on the News from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, before working in the Farnham office of the Surrey and Hants News.

She went on to freelance for national newspapers including the Sunday Telegraph and she also worked for several years in London at the headquarters of ITV’s Teletext service where she was a theatre critic, travel writer, health and finance specialist.

John Elliott, former editor of the Aldershot News, said: “Debbie was a lovely person whose sparkling personality and sense of fun were guaranteed to being sunshine to the gloomiest of offices on a dull no-news day.

“In the time Debbie worked at the News I came to know her as a loyal and efficient reporter, whose dedication contributed much to the team and success of the paper. We can ill afford to lose people like that so young and in their prime.”

Debbie is survived by Paul and their two daughters Francesca, aged 22, and Daisy, 19.  A Just Giving page has been set up in her memory with proceeds going to Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice, Farnham.

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