LEGENDARY Leigh-born Daily Mail columnist Lynda Lee-Potter died on Wednesday. She had been suffering from a brain tumour.

Editor-in-chief Paul Dacre announced her death "with great sadness". He said: "Lynda joined the Mail in 1967 and for the past 32 years her weekly column and countless interviews have made an incalculable contribution to the paper's success."

Lee-Potter had been ill for some time and wrote the last of her regular columns in May. Her last contribution to the paper was an interview with TV presenter Gloria Hunniford, who spoke for the first time about the death of her daughter Caron Keating.

Lynda Lee-Potter has been described as "the Voice of Middle England" and "the First Lady of Fleet Street".

She was born Lynda Higginson in the 1930s, the daughter of a mining family in Leigh. In her teens, she moved to London to study drama - telling friends that she lost her Lancashire accent on the train down.

She married Jeremy Lee-Potter, a medical student and the son of an air marshal in 1957.

She won Columnist of the Year at the British Press Awards in 2001, for writing described as "consistently outstanding" and what the judges said was "an amazing ability to pick up on what a lot of people are thinking".

She also won Columnist of the Year in 1984, Feature Writer of the Year in 1987, Woman Writer of the Year in 1989 and Feature Writer of the Year in 1993.

Mr Dacre said: "Lynda's genius was in putting into simple words what millions of ordinary people were thinking - articulating, without talking down to them, not only their dreams but also their anger and frustration.

"Her colleagues on the Mail and her millions of devoted readers will miss her terribly."