Tributes to 'highly talented' reporter after heart failure death aged 48
Tributes have been paid to a "highly popular" national journalist who worked in Wolverhampton and Shropshire after his death aged 48.
James Mills, a reporter with Mail Online, was found dead in Crawley on March 2 at the house where he was staying with his young daughter.
James graduated from Greenwich University with a degree in sociology and in 1997 joined the NCTJ training scheme at the Express & Star in Wolverhampton, where his dad Arthur had been a reporter for 20 years.
He had by then moved to the Shropshire Star and for a brief period father and son worked together.
James worked firstly on the Shrewsbury Chronicle before moving to the Market Drayton and Shrewsbury offices to work on the daily title.
But he had his eyes on a career with the nationals and in 2000 was given shifts on the Sun and the Daily Mail: Both were interested in taking him on and at that time he chose the Mail.
In 2007 he left the Mail to set up Brighton News & Features based in Hove, principally to be around for his daughter, Ruby, who was born in 2008.
Later he worked as a freelancer in the South East area and then had a spell as a press officer for Shelter. He returned to mainstream journalism with The Sun in 2013.
In June last year James accepted a redundancy package from News UK and took time out to promote his unique art work.
A talented artist and prolific doodler, James had produced a series of freestyle compositions and exhibited some of his work in Brighton, creating the 'JimmyDoodle' website.
In December he had the opportunity to join Mail Online.
His dad Arthur said James was happily settling into his office-based role and was enjoying his new job, especially as it allowed him to spend quality time with his daughter.
'An amazing person'
Speaking on behalf of the family Arthur said: "We are deeply shocked and sad at James' untimely passing. He was an amazing person, a loving son and brother and a devoted father.
"He was so witty and clever, talented and humble, very easy going and a pleasure to be around. We were lucky to have had him in our lives and he will be missed forever.
"It has brought some comfort that, without exception, the messages we have received reveal that people have such good memories of James and that he was so well liked and respected by colleagues and friends."
James was remembered by former colleagues at the Shropshire Star where he began his career.
"He was such a lovely man and I have great memories of him when he joined the Chronicle fresh from the training scheme," said Lucy Todman.
"He made me howl with laughter. He was a fabulous reporter and a credit to his family," she added.
"I am stunned. He was one of the best I ever worked with. Easy going, warm, funny, charming and so, so good at his job," said Claire Dunn, a former Shropshire Star colleague.
Stephen Moyes, Investigations Editor at The Sun, said: “James' former colleagues are all in shock. He was loved and adored. I will always vividly recall his smile and laugh. One reporter summed it up – he was simply 'the best of us'.
“He was a respected and admired hack. I hope there is some comfort for his family in knowing that everyone who knew James agree he made the world a better place.”
Martin Wright, editor in chief of the Express & Star and Shropshire Star, said: “James was a very talented journalist who made many friends during his time on the Shropshire Star.
“He established himself quickly as a fine reporter working in the Market Drayton patch and his career quickly took off, leading him from Shropshire to the national newspapers in London.
"He is a great loss to journalism and will be sorely missed by those who knew him. His death at the age of just 48 is a tragedy.”
A post-mortem found that James died of heart failure. Funeral arrangements will be announced later.
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