BOB KILBEY, sub-editor, radio DJ and all-round good fellow has died suddenly at the age of 68.
Breaking the shattering news, his close friend and former colleague Tony Boullemier, said: 'Bob collapsed during a tennis match on Wednesday 3rd July and was dead before they could get him to hospital.
'He'd been unwell for a month or so. His doctor said he had a virus and put him on antibiotics. He had stopped his regular swimming sessions because of this but didn't want to let his tennis pals down in a league match.
'He was 68 and had been living with diabetes for more than 40 years.'
Tony added: 'Bob was my first mate at the Express and I sat between him and Les Diver when I arrived in November 1969 and we have kept in touch ever since. Bob and Jenny (who died a few years ago) were at my wedding in 1970.
'I last spoke to him three weeks ago when I phoned to warn him that a spammer had hacked into the Drones Luncheon Club address list.
'He was planning to get everyone together for a summer lunch rather than wait till December.'
Another close friend, Bill 'Didge' Reynolds, said: 'Bob's partner Patricia called on Saturday to tell me he had collapsed and died while playing tennis. He hadn't been that well for a few weeks but insisted on playing because he didn't want to let the side down.
'We are all pretty shocked. I first sat next to Bob in the press box at Barking Football Club in Vicarage Road 50 years ago.'
Alastair McIntyre, another lunch companion, added: 'Bob was a lovely man and it was a privilege to have known him. I shall remember him for his warmth, his mellifluous voice and his amusing conversation. He is a shattering loss to us all.'