A FORMER journalist has been praised for being an "excellent advocate" for Malvern.

Rob Hale, a stalwart Malvern Gazette news reporter before leaving after 31 years in 2019, died aged 59 last month having lived in the area for much of his life.

Rhys Humm, who was business development director for The Holywell Water Company, said on Facebook: "I'm really saddened to hear this, a lovely man.

"I spoke with Robert on many occasions and his passion for Malvern and representing it in the best possible way was clearly evident.

"He loved our town and community and was an excellent advocate for it."

West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin was "saddened" to hear the news about "a long-standing reporter covering Malvern for many years".

She said: “While working at the Gazette, he was at the heart of the news in the town and always took the time to make sure local stories got the coverage they deserved.

"He was one of the reasons the Malvern Gazette has such a loyal readership. He was well-known among the Malvern community and a regular at council meetings and at the Nag’s Head pub.

"He will be sadly missed by all of those who worked alongside him over four decades of reporting.”

One of Rob's communications contacts Sharon Gilbert said: "So sad to hear this. Rest in peace Rob. Thank you for the stories."

Alec Mackie talked to Rob, a "polite, well-spoken young man", often during council communications roles at County Hall and in Malvern.

He said: "I recognised him as an honest reporter who always checked with me my 'quote' or statement before his report appeared in the paper.

"In return I would often 'tip him off' with stories from the Malvern and Ledbury areas which he always faithfully followed up.

"Although 'young in age' he always struck me as 'old' for his time. Sadly missed by all readers of the Gazette.

"I would compare Robert with my good friend, the redoubtable Michael Grundy, a name familiar with your older and not-so-old readers."

Charity fundraiser Sarah Grout said: "Rob was such a committed and professional reporter, going to some lengths to get facts correct.

"He was always of great support, reporting on community and charity events in the locality."

Paul Newman added: "I was at school with Rob, a lovely man."

Rob's brother Simon said a private cremation will hopefully be followed by a tribute get-together at a later date.