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Weekly’s assistant editor and ‘skilled wordsmith’ dies aged 59

ian-thompsonA weekly journalist whose gift to a Russian cosmonaut ended up in space has died suddenly aged 59.

Tributes have been paid to Ian Thompson, left, assistant editor at the Barnsley Chronicle, who spent nearly 40 years with the newspaper.

Ian, who died of pneumonia while recovering from throat cancer, joined the Chronicle in 1978 and stayed for nearly 40 year

During his time with the Chronicle, Ian covered local government, business and courts at various points and had more recently been working part-time.

In 1988 he handed over a doll of Sam Barn, based on a cartoon character in the Chronicle, to cosmonaut Alexander Volkov, who was part of a delegation from Barnsley’s twin town of Gorlovka, in Ukraine, which visited the newspaper’s office.

Millions watched the cuddly toy bobbing around in the spaceship while the cosmonaut was interviewed live on television by Noel Edmonds on his Saturday morning programme.

Ian covered local government in the 1980s and was appointed an assistant editor in the early 1990s, being responsible for the news editing, and later concentrated on business news and court work.

Away from work he had numerous interests, including watching West End productions and visiting museums and art galleries in London and New York, listening to music and collecting books. He had started to write a book about the history of Soho.

John Threkeld, the Chronicle’s retired deputy editor, described Ian as a “dapper little man [who] produced tightly written clean copy at a breakneck speed, and in his heyday appeared to fill the newspaper on his own.

He added: “Ian was a tireless worker and a skilled wordsmith with a tabloid news sense. He was also a natural comedian who enlivened dull afternoons in the office with his original one-liners and quips.

“He loved newspapers, particularly well written features, and enjoyed drinking with other journalists and contacts in the local hotel bar.”