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Journalist found dead aged 50 after helping to launch new local paper

Sharon Harris 1A journalist who helped to launch a new local newspaper just four months ago has been found dead aged 50.

Tributes have been paid to Sharon Harris, who served as a reporter on the launch team of the Glamorgan Star.

Sharon, pictured, previously spent 13 years working for the Barry and District News before joining the fortnightly Star, launched in June primarily by staff who were made redundant following the closure of the Glamorgan Gem last August.

Glamorgan Star journalist Philip Irwin has led the tributes to Sharon, saying her colleagues had been left “devastated and stunned” after she was found dead at her home on Tuesday.

In a piece for the newspaper, Philip said: “This paper has been going only four months and we were delighted when she agreed to join us. She knew Barry better than anyone and her time with us proved it.

“For those of us who came to the Star from the Glamorgan Gem, Sharon (on the Barry and District) was a rival who always seemed to get stories that we missed. She did it by being a news reporter through and through.

“She believed in the importance of speaking to people in the news, and she asked the right questions. She could detect political ‘spin’ at 100 yards and was dedicated to telling the real story.

“It is so hard to take in that someone laughing and joking only last Saturday can be taken so suddenly.

“We will, of course, be compiling a suitable tribute for our next edition on Thursday 4 November, and we welcome any contributions from her many friends.

“All of us at the Glamorgan Star offer our heartfelt condolences to her family.”

Former colleagues have also paid tribute.

Ex-Barry & District News editor Shira Valek, who took Sharon on as a reporter, said in response to Philip’s piece: “She didn’t want to go to a daily or a national – she just wanted to be an old-school reporter with her own patch, and she found it in Barry.

“She was completely committed, determined and dedicated to the paper and the town from day one, and she just loved getting out and about, meeting people, and finding stories that mattered to readers.

“She never let her health problems stop her and she travelled the world – taking on marathons, challenges, volunteering (she particularly loved being a Games Maker at the 2012 London Olympics), and filling her life with experiences many people could only dream of.

“She just loved the job, and told me how happy she was to be back reporting on Barry in her new role at the Glamorgan Star.”

Sarah Wigmore, audience and content editor at the South Wales Argus, worked with Sharon for many years and said she was “deeply saddened” by her death.

She told the News: “Sharon was a lovely person who devoted her career to serving the people of Barry as a reporter, a town she loved,” she said.

“Sharon bravely overcame a brain tumour twice and never let her health issues hold her back.

“She had a passion for travel and had a long bucket list of places she wanted to see and things she wanted to do in her lifetime.

“She travelled the world, including volunteering at a panda sanctuary in China and I loved to hear of her adventures.

“Now on to your final journey Sharon, you will be missed.”