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NUJ pays tribute to sports journalist Vikki Orvice

6 February 2019

Sean Ingle

The Sun’s long-time athletics correspondent Vikki Orvice, who blazed a trail for women in sport during a 24-year career in national newspapers, has died aged 56.

She was was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and had continued to work for the newspaper until the end of last year despite being told it was incurable. The news was announced by her husband Ian Ridley, who wrote: “My beloved, bright, brilliant wife Vikki Orvice passed away at 5am, able to defy the cancer no longer. I am bereft, empty, but grateful for her life and her love. Those who feel the breath of sadness, sit down next to me.”

Vikki started at the Sun as a football writer in 1995, one of the few women to write about sport in a national newspaper at the time, and was heavily involved in establishing the Women in Football organisation, as well as serving as the vice-chair of the Football Writers’ Association. She was also a mentor for many young women journalists making their way in the industry.

In 2002 she became athletics correspondent of the Sun, breaking a string of exclusives and being so respected that the IAAF, the sport’s governing body, used her as a sounding board on behalf of the global media. She also became the first women chair of the British Athletics Writers’ Association (BAWA) in its history, and three years ago she received the Inspiration Award from the organisation – the first non-track and field star to be awarded the gong.

Mark Woods, BAWA chair, described her as “quite simply, a very special individual”.  He said: “Her humour, as well as her pugnaciousness and professionalism, will linger long in the memory. Never shy of fighting her cause, she was also first to lend support and sage advice. In recent weeks, even as her disease was wearing her down, she was still WhatsApping to express her annoyance about having to miss events, such was her amazing enthusiasm for the craft of getting and writing stories.”

The world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe was one of the many athletes to pay tribute, writing: “Vikki will be greatly missed. A true trailblazer for women journalists, and women everywhere. Lived her life with integrity and courage, always thinking of others and treading her own path.”

This first appeared in the Guardian: Vikki Orvice, journalist and trailblazer for women in sport, dies aged 56

Tags: , Vikki Orvice, obituary