Respected journalist Raymond Hughes dies aged 53

Raymond Hughes with cousin Briege
Raymond Hughes with cousin Briege

Tributes have been paid to a highly respected journalist who has passed away aged 53.

Raymond Hughes was from Coalisland in Co Tyrone but had lived in Belfast in recent years.

A distinguished career in journalism had seen Mr Hughes work at a range of respected titles over many years, including as a sub-editor with the News Letter.

Mr Hughes had worked with the Irish News, the Ulster Gazette and the Daily Mirror, as well as Real-time Editing and Design, an editorial outsourcing company based in Belfast city centre.

He was described as a “hero” after having donated a kidney to his cousin, Briege Dorman in September 2016.

Earlier this month, Mr Hughes had spoken in an interview about his selfless act and confirmed he would do the same thing again.

A sufferer of epilepsy, he was concerned he might have a seizure while undergoing the surgery, but went ahead with the procedure after being cleared by doctors.

At the time, his cousin was struggling with pain and having to endure regular dialysis

“It’s a gift to be able to change someone’s life,” he said.

He was described as being in good health after recovering from the operation.

The son of a fisherman, Mr Hughes had a keen interest in Lough Neagh and was the editor of the ‘Lough Neagh News’ online publication.

The Guardian’s Ireland correspondent Henry McDonald was amongst those to pay tribute.

“He was a selfless person who donated his kidney to his cousin and we all deeply admired him,” he said.

“He was a great journalist and a wonderful person. He was great company. He will be sorely, sorely missed. We are all gutted about losing him.”

The chairman of the Alpha Newspaper Group, Lord Kilclooney, paid tribute to his “professionalism” during Mr Hughes’ time as editor of the Ulster Gazette newspaper in Co Armagh.

Lord Kilclooney said: “He was a delight to work with and as a Coalisland man he had a real understanding of how we live here in the west of Ulster.

“One great tribute to him is that he overcame the sectarian divide in the region. He edited the Ulster Gazette as a journalist with great professionalism.”

Terry Kavanagh, managing director of Real-time Editing and Design, said the company was “devastated”.