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Death of Graham Cole, former KM editor, Gravesham Council press officer and The Last Punter author

By Rachel Dixon

A journalist and writer, whose career spanned more than 40 years and across the world, has passed away.

Graham Cole, 66, was a long term editor at the KM Group's daily papers Evening Post and Kent Today.

He also worked at Gulf Mirror in Bahrain in the Middle East and was former evening service editor for PA News.

Graham Cole, former Gravesham council press officer and KM editor
Graham Cole, former Gravesham council press officer and KM editor

He has been remembered by former colleagues for his keen sense of humour, kindness and supportive nature.

Retired photographer Roger Vaughan, who worked at the KM Group for 22 years, said: "He was a really great guy, who was very good to his colleagues.

"When he retired about two years ago, we were chatting about one all-night stint that we did at the outbreak of the Gulf War, when we put together a front page.

"It shows his dedication really. He was a remarkable man, and a very clever journalist."

Mr Cole left journalism in 2002 and finished his career at Gravesham Council where he was a press officer.

Mr Vaughan remembers how he headed off to Spain for a few months after his retirement, sharing sunny snaps with friends as they battled the British weather.

Graham Cole stayed up all night to cover the outbreak of the Gulf War
Graham Cole stayed up all night to cover the outbreak of the Gulf War

KM Group chairman Geraldine Allinson said: "I am sad that Graham lost his battle with cancer.

"There are many people who were colleagues of his over the years who will remember him fondly.

"At KM he was a well respected editor who always understood what his readers wanted to know.

"He also encouraged and helped those in the company that had talent and commitment to the team and his newspaper.

"Kent is a poorer place without him. He will be missed and our thoughts are with his family and friends."

Sarah Knight, senior media officer for Gravesham council said: "I worked with Graham for years, he had a story about everything, was fun, passionate and at times a grumpy sod but there was rarely a dull moment.

"He supported me and lots of others to further my career in communications for which I will always be grateful.

"Graham was a boss, teacher, mentor and a friend and often reminded me that if you are doing a job that you enjoyed as a hobby then you must be on to a winner."

Former colleague Ashley Austen, head of editorial graphics at the KM Group, said: "Graham was always incredibly supportive and encouraging to me when we set up the editorial graphics department at the KM Group in the early 1990s.

"I will always be grateful to him for investing his trust in me. He was a great role model as a journalist and editor as well as a friend.

"He will be much missed by all those who had the pleasure of knowing him."

Mr Cole was also known for penning novel The Last Punter in 2015.

Graham Cole, former Gravesham council press officer and KM editor
Graham Cole, former Gravesham council press officer and KM editor

The book is filled with "sex, scandal, intrigue, politics and death", according to its front cover.

Set in an imaginary town on the River Thames, The Last Punter tells the story of former reporter Gary Clarke, who switches jobs to run the public relations at a local council.

Although fictitious, the tale does draw on Mr Cole's career experiences and conversations with politicians and journalists.

Despite an identical career to his protagonist, Mr Cole insisted the similarities stop there.

Melanie Norris, director for communities at Gravesham council, added: "We are saddened to hear of the passing of Graham Cole, who was communications manager at Gravesham council between April 2006 and October 2016.

"Graham was an ex journalist on many of Kent’s local papers and turned his hand to PR, working for several local authorities in Kent.

"His last full time role was at Gravesham, where he brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to our communications team.

"Our thoughts go out to his family at this very sad time."

Tributes from former colleagues, family members and friends have been shared on social media.

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