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Former editor loses cancer battle weeks after filing final piece

Victor GordonA “one off” journalist who spent most of his career with the same weekly newspaper has died aged 74.

Tributes have been paid to well-known Northern Irish journalist Victor Gordon, left, who rose to become deputy editor of the Portadown Times and also edited the Armagh Guardian for a time.

Victor, who was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer last month, began working for the Times in his mid-20s and continued to contribute to the paper up to just a few weeks before his death.

Among those to pay tribute has been national broadcaster Gloria Hunniford, whose father worked as an advertising manager for former Times owner Morton Newspapers.

She told Belfast daily The News Letter: “Anything that ever happened to me, he was always ringing up for a story. All throughout my career Victor seems to have been around. From that point of view he’s been a great personal supporter, and a great family supporter as well.

“It didn’t matter what it was that was in the news. Whether I was moving to London, whether I was getting divorced, whether I was getting remarried – and most recently the OBE – Victor was always on the phone. I always gave him an interview, because I know he pretty well had my back.

“Victor was an incredible writer, and an incredible reporter – because once he got the bit between his teeth, he never gave up until he got the interview. So from that point of view he was a fabulous journalist.”

Before becoming a journalist, initially providing rugby match reports on a freelance basis, Victor had an “unhappy” early stint as a quantity surveyor, and also a period working as a teacher for special needs children.

Within five years Victor, known as ‘Vicky’ to colleagues, had become deputy editor of the Times during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Former Times editor David Armstrong, who hired him, said: “He was a one-off. You could have bet your life on him, and many’s the time I had to during the worst of the Troubles in Portadown.

“Portadown was a difficult place, and we were all from Portadown. So it wasn’t easy to report the Drumcree stuff – or to report any Troubles stuff. There were murders practically every week at one stage, and Vicky was in the middle of reporting them all.”

Victor later took on the editorship of the Armagh Guardian, but “never really wanted the job” because he would much rather chase stories than act as a manager.

Despite overseeing a jump in circulation there, he returned to his old deputy editor post at the Times.

Current News Letter editor Alistair Bushe, who was Times editor between 2007 and 2015, said: “With the greatest of respect to the Portadown Times, Victor could have gone on to much bigger things.

“He was a journalist of the highest quality and had numerous opportunities to move on but he was fiercely loyal to the paper and he absolutely loved reporting on news from his home town.”

Victor continued to freelance for the Times after his official retirement from the paper.

He is survived by his widow Elizabeth, brother William, daughters Heather and Fiona, son Paul, and grandchildren Cameron and Sarah.