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Cancer-stricken journalist who wrote book from hospital bed dies aged 74

KEnneth RoyA former regional press journalist who revealed his terminal cancer diagnosis last month before starting to write a book from his hospital bed has died aged 73.

Tributes have been paid to Kenneth Roy, left, who worked for titles including the Falkirk Mail, Falkirk Herald, The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday.

Kenneth also worked for the BBC and founded Scottish Review magazine in 1995.

He revealed his diagnosis in a farewell column for the Review last month, but had been writing a book from his hospital bed prior to his death this morning.

Journalists have taken to Twitter to pay tribute.

Martyn McLaughlin, investigative journalist at The Scotsman, wrote: “Thoughts with Kenneth Roy’s family and friends. An eloquent and perceptive journalist with the bite to match his bark.”

BBC journalist Craig Williams added: “Mourning the loss of Kenneth Roy; a peerless writer and thinker, and a fearless reporter right to the end.”

And Tom Gallagher wrote: “Kenneth Roy was a fearless, probing and cosmopolitan writer (in the best sense of that word). He had many strings to his journalistic bow. He exposed the misdeeds and cover-ups of arrogant elites and gave real meaning to the phrase, the Scottish democratic intellect.”

Kenneth had written and roughly edited 43,000 words of his book in the past three weeks.

In a piece for Scottish Review about the project, he wrote: “I opened a blank page on my laptop and wrote a sentence and found that the sentence consisted of the date. It was a start.

“Within a few hours it seemed I was keeping a diary. I hadn’t the faintest idea where I was going with it, for this was no ordinary diary. I imagined it might make a longish magazine piece, one I’d never have to account for.”

On how he felt after writing further, Kenneth added: “It no longer felt like a posthumous essay for the Scottish Review. Was I writing a book? Could I, in extremis, actually be writing a book?

“If I was, it was an odd sort of book. I had to be careful to end each day’s extended diary entry with a sentence that would still look okay if the author was dead by the morning.”

Kenneth has described the book as “emotionally honest.”

He said: “I hope it’s even funny in places and it is publishable as it stands. It only lacks a conclusion, and I don’t have one, I’m still working on it in my head. I have to be open to the possibility that I’ll never get that far. I take no hour for granted.”

“It will acknowledge the overwhelming gratitude I feel for the people on station 9 who have made it possible. To my consultant, to my nurses, to the unsung and the tireless who protect me, I owe nothing less.”

Kenneth’s funeral service will be private, but a memorial service will be held early next year.