An award-winning journalist and former editor of The Argus has died aged 81.

Tributes have been paid to David Williams, who led the paper for seven years from 1978 to 1985.

During his tenure The Argus reported on two of the biggest stories of the decade – the Brighton bombing and the famine in Ethiopia.

The distinguished journalist and editor, whose career saw him work in both regional and national newspapers, had lived with Parkinsons disease since 2007.

Sadly he was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the end of August from which he did not recover.

Loyal His former colleagues at The Argus remembered Mr Williams as a “wonderful editor and a lovely man”.

Argus columnist Adam Trimingham, who was a reporter at the paper under Mr Williams, said: “He had a great feel for newspapers and was always extremely loyal to his staff.

“When he came in he just got hold of the paper and changed things for the better. But he was a funny man too and you could always have a laugh with him.”

Mr Williams began his career as a trainee reporter at the Bury Free Press in Suffolk in 1949.

He joined the Daily Mirror in 1955 before gaining his first editorship in 1965 at the South East London Mercury. He then launched the Basildon Echo in 1969 before joining The Argus.

As editor he was named Journalist of the Year at the 1984 British Press Awards for his reports on famine in Ethiopia and the coverage of the Brighton bombing.

A year later he returned to Fleet Street as deputy editor of The People and The European before returning to the county where his career began to edit the Bury paper in 1989.

Mr Trimingham added: “David was always at his best when dealing with the big stories.

“When the bombing happened, he immediately grasped the enormity of the situation. He knew immediately that this was the biggest story ever printed in The Argus.

“But he always claimed his biggest achievement was to get a sofa installed in the editor’s office so he could catch 40 winks during the day.”

Mr Williams was president of the Guild of Editors in 1992/93 and helped guide the changeover to the Society of Editors in 1999 when he retired after a 48-year career. He was made an MBE for services to journalism and went on to write a book, Poison Farm, in which he solved a 1938 murder that had long baffled detectives.

Simon Dack, Argus chief photographer, said Mr Williams was “a pleasure to work for”.

He said: “David was a great bloke and very humorous, but I never saw him get flustered and he had the complete respect of the staff.”

He is survived by his second wife, Elizabeth, his first wife, four children and six grandchildren.