Tributes have been paid to a highly respected and popular Westcountry journalist, writes Martin Freeman.
Carol Saunders, a reporter for the WMN's sister paper The Herald for 25 years, died peacefully at her Plymouth home on Friday. She was 68.
Carol was the paper's longest-serving reporter when she retired four years ago after half a century in journalism.
Affectionately dubbed The Herald's Golden Girl – for her blonde hair and skill as a reporter – Carol's career included interviewing the Beatles, meeting then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and jetting around the world as a travel writer.
A mark of her standing in the community was the farewell she was given at Plymouth Magistrates' Court when she finished work in February 2009.
The then Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Councillor Brian Vincent, presented Carol with a gift on behalf of himself and the city, and tributes from court staff including one by District Judge Paul Farmer.
Carol leaves two daughters, Charlotte, who lives in Lincoln, and Tara, in North Carolina, USA, and two grandsons. Carol was divorced from Eddie Buckley, a hotelier, who died in 1985. Charlotte said: "She was much loved by her daughters and her family. She loved her work."
A post-mortem examination showed Carol died of a pulmonary embolism, a blockage of one of the arteries in the lung by a blood clot. Details of her funeral have yet to be announced.
Tributes following her death were led by Western Morning News editor Bill Martin, her last editor during her time at The Herald, who said she was "almost the archetypal local newspaper journalist" of her era.
"She was really dedicated, really hardworking and a chain smoker," he said. "She was completely reliable. You could not ask for a safer pair of hands for a story."
Susan Bahman, legal adviser to Plymouth magistrates, said: "Carol was very well known, very respected and known for her fair reporting. I am very, very sad that she has died."
Carol served under six editors and saw the paper's name change from the Western Evening Herald to the Evening Herald, then to The Herald.
She was originally from Hereford. Before moving to Plymouth she was a reporter with the Express and Star in Wolverhampton. There she interviewed the Beatles, met Mrs Thatcher and became the women's editor at the unusually young age of 21. While on a travel writing assignment in San Francisco she shared a jokey kiss with the American singer and King of Calypso Harry Belafonte.
The Herald's former head of content, Mike Bramhall, worked with her on both papers and knew her for 34 years. "Carol was a very kind, very generous, very bubbly person," he said.