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Former daily editor dies while snorkelling on ‘trip of a lifetime’

Gareth WeekesA former regional daily editor has died aged 77 while snorkelling on holiday.

Tributes have been paid to Gareth Weekes, who spent six years in charge of the Bournemouth Echo as well as stints editing weekly newspapers in Devon and Wiltshire.

Gareth, pictured, was in the Caribbean at the time of his death on Wednesday 8 March.

According to his family, the “keen sailor was enjoying the trip of a lifetime aboard a beautiful yacht” with Alison, his wife of 17 years and herself a former journalist.

His eldest daughter Veryan Cranston, 49, said: “Dad died as he lived – taking risks, having adventures, exploring the world and approaching life with boundless enthusiasm and a gung-ho zest for new experiences.

“We are glad he was having those adventures right up till the end.”

Cardiff-born Gareth’s father Philip Weekes was a mining engineer who served as South Wales area director of the National Coal Board.

Gareth spent most of his adolescence in South Wales, aside from brief stints in Orpington and Nigeria, and worked for a firm of solicitors before building a career as a journalist.

He edited the Tavistock Times Gazette before moving to the Salisbury Journal in 1983, subsequently taking the reins at the Echo from 1990 to 1996.

Under his leadership, the paper became the first in the country to offer a paedophile register, allowing organisations working with children to check the records of those applying for jobs with them.

He was married to primary school teacher Diane Weekes for 35 years until her death in 2004.

The couple had three children – Veryan, Bronwen and Jenna.

In 1998 Gareth set up the PR consultancy Deep South Media, which is now run by his friend and former colleague Ron Wain.

He was named South West Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2004 Chamber Awards.

In 2007 he married Alison Hulls, a lifelong friend and a school friend of Diane’s and the couple lived in Clayhidon, Devon.

Gareth and Alison had worked together as journalists on the Hendon and Finchley Times in North-West London when he was just 20.

They shared a flat with her first husband, BBC war cameraman Brian Hulls, and stayed friends throughout their careers.

Alison said: “We were proud of our work supporting those without a voice, exposing fraud and corruption and responsibly recording life as it happened.

“Absolutely everyone described Gareth as a lovely man. He had enormous integrity and empathy with each person he met and this is reflected in the overwhelming reaction to his tragic and sudden death.”

His daughter Jenna Fansa, 43, who also worked as a journalist at the Echo and joined him at Deep South, said: “Dad took a very genuine interest in everyone he met – together with his wit and engaging writing style, this made him a very talented journalist.

“Kindness ran through everything he did. He was a wonderful father. We are so very lucky to have had him.”

Gareth also had two stepchildren, Poz Watson and Maddie Flint, and 11 grandchildren. He is survived by his sisters Carolyn Arthurs and Jane Revill.

His brother Huw Weekes, a journalist and newsreader for HTV Wales, died tragically in 2001.