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Sports reporter who served weekly for a decade dies aged 39

A sports reporter who served a weekly newspaper for a decade before going on to become a hospital PR chief has died of cancer aged 39.

Tributes have been paid to John Boyman, who worked for the Basingstoke Gazette between 2004 and 2015.

John left the Gazette to join Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, working his way up to become head of public relations.

The father-of-two had suffered from bowel cancer before his death on 30 September.

John Boyman with his wife Helen and their two sons at a special day organised before his death by charity Bucket List Wishes

John Boyman with his wife Helen and their two sons at a special day organised before his death by charity Bucket List Wishes

Mark Jones, who was editor of the Gazette when John joined the newspaper, said: “John was a dear friend and a wonderful man whose loss will be felt by all who were lucky enough to know him.

“I feel fortunate to have known him and to have worked with him for nearly 20 years. I am pleased that I was able to give John a start in journalism. He was a very talented journalist and quickly became a popular and respected local reporter.”

John began his Gazette career as a reporter covering the Whitchurch area in 2004, moving to sport three years later.

One of his most memorable articles came in September 2014, when Basingstoke Town launched an audacious bid to sign Brazilian football star Ronaldinho.

Mark told the Gazette: “After beginning his career in news, John moved over to report on one of his great passions – sport. He covered various sports but he particularly carved out a reputation for his great coverage of Basingstoke Town FC and Basingstoke Rugby Club.

“John was undoubtedly one of the best sports reporters to work at the Gazette. His enthusiasm for the sports he covered shone through in his writing, and he had that special ability to bring sports matches alive for the audience in print and online.

“After leaving the Gazette, I was fortunate to work with John again at [Hampshire Hospitals], where it was great to see him make a significant and positive impact as his career developed in a new direction.

“Above all, John was a devoted family man, and my thoughts and condolences are with his wife Helen, his sons Zac and Thom, and his wider family.”

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of the NHS Trust where John worked, described John as a “much-loved member of our communications team”.

She told the Gazette: “John joined the trust in 2015 after a successful career in journalism and quickly became well known for his calm manner, his steadfast support for his team and his great skill in handling the varied tasks that made up his role.

“A trusted colleague with extraordinary instincts, John was also known for his sense of humour. As such, it would be remiss of me not to note his unfailing willingness to pose topless in support of the annual flu vaccination campaign.

“It is an act he performed once again earlier this year as part of the Covid-19 vaccine drive. In his words: back by popular demand.”

Before his death, John was also sent a personal message from professional golfer Justin Rose, whose career highlights he covered during his time at the Gazette.

A fundraising page has been set up for donations to be made in John’s memory to the Bobby Moore Fund or Bucket List Wishes.

The latter charity arranged a special day for John and his family before he died, themed around trains for his train-loving sons.

Donations to the charities can be made here.