A FORMER Lancashire Telegraph journalist, described by colleagues as ‘a man of integrity’, has died aged 66.

Ralph Marshall, who was the Burnley edition’s chief reporter for around 20 years before his retirement 10 years ago, had been unwell for some time. He had a heart condition and had beaten throat cancer in the late 1990s.

Mr Marshall, who was single, was found dead at his home in Roughlee on Friday.

Former Telegraph assistant editor Keith Fort said: “He was a very professional operator and a very good reporter.

“He was extremely capable. He could tackle anything and I had a lot of time for him.”

Mr Marshall grew up in Nelson and as well as attending Bradley Secondary Modern School he went on to study at Nelson and Colne College and then at Harris College, Preston, now the University of Central Lancashire.

He started his career at the Colne Times newspaper before moving to the Burnley Evening Star in the late 1960s. He eventually moved on to the Star’s sister paper the Lancashire Evening Telegraph.

He became the Telegraph’s Burnley chief reporter in 1979 and remained in the role until his retirement. He then worked in a furniture store in Nelson for a short period.

Friend and former colleague Catherine Smyth was due to meet him for lunch on Friday. She said: “He was a fantastic reporter and he cared so much about supporting young reporters in their development.

“He could take the most boring council meeting and find the best story where others could not. He was one of the best journalists I ever worked with.”

An intensely private and independent man, he had a dry sense of humour and was passionate about sport and both local and national politics.

His greatest loves were boxing, which he had followed from being a teenager and Grand Prix racing.

Mr Marshall’s funeral will be a short celebration of his life at Burnley Crematorium, at 3.40pm on Friday, December 21.

He leaves his life-long friend, Barbara.