Colin McAlpin, journalist with a ‘gift for story telling’, dies aged 77

Former Mid Ulster Mail reporter Colin McAlpin
Former Mid Ulster Mail reporter Colin McAlpin
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Warm tributes have been paid to veteran Belfast journalist and author Colin McAlpin who has died.

North Belfast man Colin, 77, was diagnosed with cancer in the summer and he publicly shared his challenging experiences of fighting the disease.

He had been undergoing treatment at the Belfast City Hospital Cancer Centre for five weeks.

Senior News Letter journalist Billy Kennedy worked with Colin in the 1970s and 1980s when Colin was sports editor of the Sunday News in the Century Newspaper group at Donegall Street in Belfast.

“Colin was a great character, a warm courteous colleague who always went through life with a smile and a chuckle. He was a highly respected sports editor of Sunday News even though he was an avid Crusaders fan, and of Blackburn Rovers,” said Mr Kennedy.

“While we differed passionately on our Irish League affiliations, with my Linfield connections, Colin and I shared a deep fascination for American culture and music (country, bluegrass and rock) and he travelled extensively across the States to enlighten himself on the American dream and the 18th century Ulster-Scots migration there.

“I am saddened by his death, and my sympathy goes to his daughter Heidi and the family at this time.”

Robin Walsh, former BBC NI controller, shared digs with Colin when they were young reporters on the Larne Times almost 60 years ago.

He said: “They were fun times mainly because of Colin’s delightful personality and his gift for story telling, which was to serve him so well throughout his remarkable career.”

Apart from the Sunday News and News Letter, Colin also worked with the Mid-Ulster Mail, Irish News and Belfast Telegraph.

In addition to sport, he was also a feature writer for the Belfast daily newspapers in arts and entertainment.

He was a regular broadcaster on BBC NI and UTV and, in recent years, had worked mainly as a travel writer and was the author of a series of books. He and his daughter Heidi also co-hosted their own Belfast-based chat magazine radio programme.

A funeral service for Colin will take place on Wednesday at 10.30am in Roselawn crematorium.

He is survived by daughter Heidi, son-in-law Ray and grandchildren Scarlett and Freddie as well as by his wife Brenda with whom he remained “best friends”.

His family has asked for donations in lieu of flowers to Macmillan Cancer Care.