Tributes have been paid to Tony Metcalf, a former Northern Echo assistant editor who went on to a high-flying career in international journalism, who has died of cancer.

Metcalf, who was 50, leaves a wife and two children, aged 18 and 10.

Tony Metcalf

Tony Metcalf

Born in the North East, he started his career on the Driffield Times and Scarborough Evening News before landing a job as a district correspondent on the Northern Echo in 1987. He stayed until 2000, rising to assistant editor.

He went on to join Metro International, and as the group’s international editor-in-chief was responsible for setting up editions in Boston, Toronto, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Hong Kong and Seoul, as well as Newcastle.

He left in 2004 to launch a newspaper in Dubai, 7Days, before returning to Metro in 2008 as editor-in-chief of Metro US, overseeing the group’s Boston, Philadelphia and New York editions.

Echo editor Peter Barron, a friend and former colleague, said: “Tony was not only a fine, passionate journalist but a great character to have around. He brought infectious energy and fun to the newsroom, led from the front, and The Northern Echo was lucky to be one of the newspapers which benefited from his great qualities. He will be greatly missed.”

Tim Grant, principal of Darlington College where Metcalf had once headed up the journalism department, added: “Tony was a very influential journalist, who inspired a generation of young people to pursue careers in the media and made an enormous contribution to Darlington College.

“He will be missed by his friends and colleagues and our thoughts are with his family.”