He was a stalwart Chronicle journalist who was passionate about his work.

But now Matt Casey has died at the age of 72 after suffering long-term breathing problems.

Matt was our district reporter based primarily in Washington, then Durham and Gateshead, and was well known in the area.

He covered thousands of stories during more than 40 years service and worked on tales covering hard news and court, to off-beat, human interest pieces.

Chronicle journalist Matt Casey, of Washington, has died at the age of 72. Pictured with his wife Mildred.
Chronicle journalist Matt Casey, of Washington, has died at the age of 72. Pictured with his wife Mildred.

“I have lost my best friend,” said his loving wife Mildred, 71.

“He was very sociable, he loved a pint and going to the pub with his friends. He liked his holidays and was always happy. But then he would argue his corner to fight what was right for his work.

“I have been with him for almost 52 years. The house will be so empty without him.

 

Matt died in Sunderland Royal Infirmary on Tuesday, July 16. He had suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and battled with pneumonia.

Matt, from Washington, first wanted to be a reporter at the age of 14. He originally had dreams of becoming an English teacher and won a competition set up by the Daily Mirror when he had to explain his ambitions on a postcard. As a schoolboy he was taken to London and a trip around the Daily Mirror offices and the House of Commons changed his mind.

Chronicle journalist Matt Casey, of Washington, has died at the age of 72. Pictured as a rookie reporter.
Chronicle journalist Matt Casey, of Washington, has died at the age of 72. Pictured as a rookie reporter.

He joined the Chronicle’s circulation department at the age of 17 and then six months later started as a trainee reporter.

Matt, a former pupil of St Joseph’s Grammar School in Hebburn, then became a sub-editor at the age of 26, before leaving for Kenya in 1977 to 1978 where he worked on the Daily Nation sub-editing and advised the Kenyans’ on print production.

He then came back to the North East and rejoined the Chronicle team, but this time back as a reporter.

 

He covered the Washington area and the south of the region where he built up a huge array of contacts.

Keen golfer Matt left at the age of 62 and spent six month in the Durham Constabulary Press Office. He then became a freelance court reporter before having a heart attack in 2010 when he retired.

It was then he dedicated his time to his grandchildren.

Chronicle journalist Matt Casey, of Washington, has died at the age of 72. Pictured with wife Mildred at the Chronicle's long service awards.
Chronicle journalist Matt Casey, of Washington, has died at the age of 72. Pictured with wife Mildred at the Chronicle's long service awards.

Mildred added: “His grandkids were the apple of his eye, he absolutely loved them. He loved journalism but then his grandchildren took over his life when he retired.”

Matt died in Sunderland Royal Hospital on Tuesday, July 16. He had suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and battled with pneumonia.

Matt also leaves daughter Louise, 47, son Anthony, 46, and grandchildren Finley and Isla, both eight, Euan, six, and 12 year-old Archie.

Former Chronicle editor Paul Robertson said: “Matt was a popular journalist and was particularly well-known in the Washington area – covering the town and the south of the region for many years.

"He was always keen to pass on his wisdom to younger reporters and ensured Chronicle readers were kept up to speed with everything going on in his patch. My thoughts are with his family, friends and former colleagues.”

 

Chronicle reporter Lisa Hutchinson worked with Matt for around 20 years. She said: “Matt was a brilliant writer and had a beautiful turn of phrase.

"My first encounter with him was when I was a rookie reporter and read a travel piece he did about going to a golf resort on a press trip with his wife Millie for their wedding anniversary.

"It was so funny it made me cry with laughter. I just had to ring him up and congratulate him on a piece that was so well written. From that day on, we hit it off. We ended up working together and became friends.

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“I was in the South Shields district office and Matt was based at Washington and worked from home. Each Friday he would call the Chronicle newsdesk and say he and I were in conference so not to disturb us. Really we would be in his back garden having tea and cakes with Millie, discussing our future stories for the following week.

“He was passionate about his work and, although he was a lovable character, he found no problem arguing his point with the newsdesk. Matt had a big personality.

"He would laugh, was charismatic, caring, but was passionate about his work and fought for what he thought was right - and I loved him for it. He will be sadly missed by us at the Chronicle.”