I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of my former Northern Echo colleague Tony Metcalf. When I was editor, Tony had not long arrived from the Scarborough Evening News. He was a tall, amiable Geordie who supported Newcastle United. He was also a naturally gifted reporter who quickly rose through the ranks. He became assistant news-editor and regularly demonstrated his natural eye for a story. His news-lists were always dominated by hard news. He was a really good footballer too - an asset to the Echo's formidable team. I moved south and Tony's career progressed, becoming news-editor and then assistant editor before spending time heading up the journalism course at Darlington college. The last time I saw him was 16 years ago, when he came on an editor's chair course in Hastings. He was still the same ... ambitious, enthusiastic and great company. The last time we were in touch was in 2010 when another of our Echo colleagues, Patrick Lavelle, prematurely died.
By then Tony was in New York, working as editor-in-chief for Metro US. He was taken into hospital this March for a routine bowel operation but was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He died in Darlington yesterday morning. He was 50. There is a fitting tribute to him by Nigel Burton in The Northern Echo today. It includes a quote from editor Peter Barron: “Tony was not only a fine, passionate journalist but a great character to have around. He brought infectious energy and fun to the newsroom, led from the front, and The Northern Echo was lucky to be one of the newspapers which benefited from his great qualities. He will be greatly missed.” Says it all.