TRIBUTES have poured in for former Worcester News sports editor Paul Ricketts, who has died aged 67.

Mr Ricketts, whose career in journalism stretched back to the late 1960s, served as the paper's sports editor from 1990 until his retirement in 2015.

He was remembered as a newspaperman through and through, loving husband and father, keen cricketer and great wit.

Speaking to the Worcester News yesterday, his daughter Michelle O'Connor said: "My father was Worcester born and bred, and went to the Royal Grammar School, where he played rugby and cricket.

"He was always into sport and followed his passion into journalism. He also played cricket for Worcester Norton Taverners.

"In the early 70s, he met and married Ann, who came from Ireland, and he was always a real family man. Everyone says how warm-hearted and good-natured he was.

"He will be greatly missed by me and my brother Steven, by his sister Lesley and by his grandchildren Harrison, Phoebe and Liam, as well as many friends and colleagues.

Mrs O'Connor and her brother posted on Facebook on Wednesday: "Yesterday we lost our amazing Dad, Paul.

"Words can’t describe our shock and sadness, and the huge loss we now have in our lives! Heaven has gained a truly beautiful soul.

"Our only comfort is that he will be reunited with our lovely mum, Ann, who he missed terribly over the last 18 months. Two stars in the sky will definitely shine brighter tonight.

"Dad will be missed by so many friends and family who loved him dearly."

Mr Rickett's career in journalism began on October 1, 1967, when he joined Berrow's Newspapers Ltd, the forerunner of today's Newsquest.

His father John was already working on the paper at the time in the press room and over the years there has been something of a Ricketts dynasty at Berrow's House, his sister Lesley having worked in accounts and his son Steve also on the printing presses.

His early years were spent covering general news and sport at the Evesham office under the guidance of editor Bill Clarke, which obviously proved a good grounding since after transferring to Worcester, he became news editor and assistant editor on the Worcester Evening News in March 1988. Two years later, he took over the sports editor mantle from Jack Godfrey.

Current Worcester News sports editor James Reece said: "We’ve missed Paul’s presence on the sports desk and in the Worcester News office ever since he retired and this news has been difficult to take in.

“Ricko meant the world to us really. We had so many laughs and good times. He was very caring and a gentleman but also an excellent journalist who was very well respected in the Worcester sporting community.

“Above all else, family was most important to Paul. To lose his beloved wife Ann the year after retiring hit him incredibly hard, but I know he gained strength from his daughter Michelle and son Steve along with his grandchildren who he was all so proud of.

“Our thoughts are with them all. Ricko will be much missed by so many people.”

Julia Lancett, managing director of Newsquest Midlands South, said: "Paul was a dearly treasured member of staff throughout the entire business. Not only was he a talented and knowledgeable sports journalist and editor, but a true gentleman.

"Kind, warm and generously natured with an open ear, nothing was too much trouble for Paul. His dedication throughout the years to the business, reporting and colleagues is commendable and one that we will continue to hold dear."

Former sports reporter Chris Oldnall, who worked with Mr Ricketts for 25 years, said: “When Paul became sports editor I was his first signing, recruited from the weekly Kidderminster newspaper. It was the start of working together for 25 memorable years.

“I'm stunned by the news of his sudden death. I last saw him at a cricket match at New Road last season and we had a long chat about the good old days during our time on the sports desk.

“We had a good laugh about some of the situations we got ourselves in and the many characters we worked alongside over the years.

“Paul richly deserved his retirement after such loyal and dedicated service on the sports desk. It's so desperately sad that his time for a more leisurely lifestyle has been cut short like this.”

Worcestershire County Cricket Club tweeted: "Worcs CCC send their condolences to the family of former Worcester News sports editor Paul Ricketts who has sadly passed away. Paul was a keen follower of the county."

Worcester Observer editor Rob George tweeted: "As editor of the Worcester Observer, may I send my condolences to the family and colleagues of former Worcester News sports editor Paul Ricketts who has passed away. May he forever be at peace."

Callow End Football Club, where his son Steve coaches, tweeted: "The thoughts and prayers of the whole club are with Steve Ricketts and his family following the sad news of his dad and former Worcester News editor Paul Ricketts. We're all sending loads of love to you."

Funeral arrangements will be confirmed in due course.