Friends and colleagues have reacted to the death of a former Watford Observer journalist who went on to national success.

The death was announced today of Simon Ricketts, who began his career at the Observer and went on to work at the Daily Mail and Independent before joining the Guardian, the paper he said it was always his ambition to write for.

He had been suffering from cancer of his stomach and pancreas for the past two years.

Writing on Twitter, his partner, screenwriter Andrea Gibb, said: "I'm so sad to let you know that our beloved Simon died earlier today.

"He endured a great deal over the past year but he was Simon N Ricketts till the end; stubborn, funny, brave, kind and loving. He had the heart of a lion and we loved him very much."

Actor Samuel West replied: "So sorry to hear your dreadful news. I hope the outpouring of love on here is some comfort. He touched so many of us with his wit and kindness x"

Beauty journalist and Guardian columnist Sali Hughes tweeted: "Heartbroken about Simon Ricketts. His good humour, generosity and grace in the face of relentless personal injustice and discomfort was awe inspiring. He was lovely. And a brilliant writer who changed how I thought and felt about life. A horrible loss, but an extraordinary legacy.

"I think Simon was among lots of people’s first Twitter follows. He was everything that was, and occasionally still is, good and affirming about this place. Funny, warm, thoughtful. We could all be more like him."

Mr Ricketts wrote screenplays as well as working as a journalist.

He was known for his humour, and built up a strong following on Twitter.

Replying to the news, @drlangtry_girl tweeted: "Truly sorry to hear this. I didn't know Simon other than from Twitter, but he was kind, wise, humane, funny - & Twitter will have less of all those qualities without his voice x"

Ally Craig tweeted: "I’m so sorry to hear this. I only knew Simon via twitter, but he touched so many of us deeply from the other side of a keyboard. He will be fondly remembered and sorely missed. Much love to you."

Times journalist Hugo Rifkind tweeted: "Raising a glass tonight to Simon Ricketts. I saw him last at a wedding. He looked amazing and hugged me and that’s how I’ll remember him. Without this place he’d have been an old mate of an old mate. Instead it feels like we hung out every day. Uplifting to have known him. Cheers"

Many on twitter joined in a virtual 'banging out' - a newspaper tradition of printers beating their hammers on their benches when a colleague retired.

Mr Ricketts revealed he had terminal cancer in a blog post in December 2016, when he was 48.

Although his cancer was mostly on his stomach and pancreas, he described it as “dotted elsewhere, hanging around inside me like violent gangs at a series of darkened bus stops”.

He wrote: “I consider myself lucky. I always have. I think of my life as a privilege. I was born into a family who surround me with love and support me in whatever I do. I am wrapped in the consuming love of a beautiful, talented, hilarious, woman, who has made me the happiest I have ever been.

“I have friends so true, so clever, so talented, so committed, so funny, so uplifting to know, that I’m almost embarrassed to have been given such gifts.

“I have worked for my local newspaper that l loved, and for now I (will continue to) work for the national newspaper it was always my ambition to join. I’ve been very, very lucky.

“While this is probably a shorter time on the planet than I was hoping for, I cannot truly feel too cheated. I really can’t. And, hey, I’m not dead yet. I’m not giving up. I plan to extend my life, by whichever ways possible, as much as I can. Let’s see how we go.”

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