IT is with a huge sense of personal loss and great sorrow that we have to announce the passing this morning of Andy Lever.
A former editor of the Thurrock Gazette and a staunch and committed journalist of the old school Andy died at his home in Grays earlier today (Saturday, 22 December).
In recent years Andy has bravely fought a long and difficult battle with illness, but he never lost his good humour.
Longer tributes will follow from friends and colleagues of a man who was passionate about Thurrock and about fairness and integrity.
He was, for several years, a senior press officer of Thurrock Council where his honesty and commitment to doing the right thing earned him the further respect of media colleagues.
For the past 18 months Andy worked on and contributed to the Thurrock Independent, leading our major investigations into some serious issues regarding the council and other organisations, particularly the NHS and plans to close Orsett Hospital.
It is no secret he despised the way the council has turned into the home of a culture of secrecy and contempt for the media and the public.
Thurrock Independent editor Neil Speight said: “I first met Andy on the day I stepped into his footsteps as editor of the Thurrock Gazette. We differed on many issues but from that very first day I respected him and his passing today brings a deep sense of loss.
“As I said, we did not agree on a number of things but it is a mark of the man that that did not stop us becoming great friends. And colleagues in the media world.
“What I can be sure of on this sad day is that Andy Lever will never be forgotten. Our deepest condolences are passed to Brenda, David and Tessa and Andy’s other family and wide circle of friends.”