NORTH Wales journalism lost a great man and a leading figure with Andrew Martin’s sad and sudden passing last week.

He was editor of the coastal titles for North Wales Newspapers and was responsible for no fewer than four papers getting out on time in the space of just a few days during what was always a frantic start to the week.

I’ll never forget the first time I met Andy, who was editor of the Pioneer when I first started by work experience as part of the NCTJ course at Glyndwr University.

An intimidating man to stand in front of initially. But it didn’t take long for his supportive nature and warm side to come through which always had a way of putting you at ease.

This was swiftly followed by an offer of a full-time job at the paper from Andy in year two of my course, which was the easiest job interview I’ll ever have.

“Do you want the job?”

“That would be great, thanks!”

“Brilliant, that’s settled then.”

And that was that.

As a mentor, Andy was very demanding. And I would be lying if there weren’t a couple of times where I felt his wrath when mistakes were made.

However, this was all part of the learning curve and made me a better journalist as a result. Andy was always there to provide a helping hand or advice on almost anything and his work ethic is something many aspire to but never match.

His understanding when I took on a new challenge elsewhere in the field of communications was a further testament to the man he was. Andy was always so proud of his proteges moving on and progressing their careers.

A chance meeting on my way to work resulted in me coming back on a freelance basis to do sport, which Andy assured me was “only for a couple of weeks”.

Five years later, here I am. At least for another month.

I would always look forward to our weekly emails speaking about various sporting matters across the coast. He loved his football, cricket and rugby, which was reflected in the platform he gave each at various times of the year.

Simply put, Andy was always in my corner.

Whether it be from legal threats surrounding certain stories, complaints about breaking transfer news before club announcements or allowing me to express opinions that might not have sat well with those in power at respective governing bodies when I felt it was needed. He would always stand up for my rights as a journalist providing there was solid evidence or reasoning behind anything I published.

Ironically, Andy was set to take over from me doing sport this week after I decided to finally call it a day. To say he was excited about this would be an understatement and we only spoke on Wednesday about the handover, good contacts and how to source information.

His death was a significant shock to all who knew and respected him. Andy was a true leader in the field, and I would not be where I am today without his influence.

All I can end on is offering my sincere condolences to his family and the journalism community in North Wales. Andy was one of a kind and will be sorely missed.