Paul Durrant - A giant of the industry, a man of the people, one of a kind

Paul Durrant was respected in every newsroom he worked in and feared by authority figures, who were

Paul Durrant was respected in every newsroom he worked in and feared by authority figures, who were pursued tenaciously for the facts. - Credit: Archant © 2005

East Anglia has lost a proud champion and unique character with the death of Paul Durrant. Ian Clarke reflects on the contribution the giant of the regional press made to life in our region.

It says so much about the modesty of Paul that he was genuinely shocked by the outpouring of affection for him.

Make no mistake about it. Duzza –as he was so affectionately known by colleagues and friends – was a huge figure in the regional press for four decades.

The man who held several senior roles with the EDP and Evening News was shamelessly old school. He was fearless and uncompromising.

Duzza was massively respected in every newsroom he worked in and loyally backed his workmates.

Everything he did came from his endless passion to get to the heart of an issue, expose the truth and fight for our communities. He could spot a great story from a country mile away and his tenacity would ensure it was told.

I've worked with some brilliant journos in my 27 years in the industry. None has given me a harder time than Duzza. Yet none has been more of a journalistic inspiration.

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In his later years Paul shared his skills and endless experience with hundreds of young journalists in his role as a trainer.

Outside the newsroom, Paul was also held in enormously high regard,

Politicians and civil servants knew they wouldn't get an easy time with Duzza.

Holding them to account was in his blood – and he let them know it.

He did, however, work collaboratively with so many organisations to battle to improve the lives of those in the towns, villages and hamlets of our region.

Paul supported many charities and was a master of teasing out human tales to help promote the causes.

He was a very accomplished local cricketer – both with the wicket keeping gloves and with the willow.

Duzza was a great supporter of county cricket and last summer enjoyed a memorable final visit to watch the Norfolk side in action at Horsford.

He was a passionate football fan, although in his final days wasn't hugely impressed with the approach from his team West Brom. He was an excellent snooker player and still fondly recalled a frame in Norwich with the great Steve Davis. He also loved a wide variety of music.

While his vocation (which it was to Paul, rather than a career) and his interests were a big part of his life, nothing mattered more deep down than his cherished family.

A beautifully poignant book has been put together with pictures and memories of Paul and within it he wrote (you imagine with tears flowing from his eyes) about his beloved wife Christine, his precious children Katie, Tom and Matthew and his grandchildren Jacob and Anna, whom he adored.

'I want to devote my final musings to my family. Those people to whom you are closest; those who give you their unconditional love and hopefully know that they have your unconditional love in return.'

Writing specifically about Christine, Paul said: 'Put simply, you made my career possible.'

When Paul discovered his cancer was terminal, a special get-together of relatives, former colleagues and friends was held at the home of his dear mate, Pat Prekopp.

The size of the turnout left Duzza gob-smacked. The words spoken about him left him speechless.

Every word from every person came from the heart and so many have been echoed following his sad death.

RIP Duzza. We'll never see the like of you again.

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