A FORMER editor of the Tavistock Times has drowned in an accident in the Caribbean.

Retired newspaper editor and public relations executive Gareth Weekes, who lived on the Blackdown Hills near Wellington, Somerset was 77.

Mr Weekes was on a sailing holiday aboard a 150 ft luxury yacht with his wife Alison, who is chairman of Clayhidon Parish Council, when the tragedy happened at the end of last week.

He died while snorkelling off a small island in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

His eldest daughter Veryan said: “Dad died as he lived - taking risks, having adventures, exploring the world, and approaching life with boundless enthusiasm and a gung ho zest for new experiences.

“We are glad he was having those adventures right up till the end.”

Mr Weekes moved to Clayhidon in the Blackdown Hills 17 years ago and was a well-known and much respected figure in village life.

He only retired last October after a journalism career which saw him edit the Salisbury Journal for seven years, and then the Bournemouth Daily Echo for nearly another seven years before he founded public relations firm Deep South Media Ltd in 1998. He had also edited the Tavistock Times earlier in his career.

He remained with Deep South for 25 years and was its managing director for 16 years and then chairman until retirement. It is now run by his friend and former colleague Ron Wain.

Mrs Weekes was thought to be the first woman to chair the council in Clayhidon in more than 100 years.

Also a journalist, she married Mr Weekes in 2007 after having known each other for most of their lives and sharing their careers.

They first met training as reporters on the Hendon and Finchley Times, in London, and remained friends while Gareth married Diane Rattray, Alison’s old schoolfriend from Cornwall, and Alison married Brian Hulls, a BBC war cameraman who died, aged 48, in 1996. Diane died in 2004.

Mrs Weekes is a former news editor of the Somerset County Gazette newspaper, and was district editor of the Chard and Ilminster News and launch editor of Limited Edition magazine.

She has been a governor of three schools and founded the Wellington branch of the adult reading charity Read Easy.

She said: “We were proud of our work as young reporters supporting those without a voice, exposing fraud and corruption, and responsibly recording life as it happened.

“Sadly, local journalism is no longer quite the same.

“Absolutely everyone described Gareth as a lovely man.

“He had enormous integrity and empathy with each person he met and this is reflected in the overwhelming reaction to his tragic and sudden death.”

Mr Weekes was born in Cardiff, the son of mining engineer Philip Weekes, South Wales area director of the National Coal Board, and spent most of his adolescence in South Wales and worked for a firm of solicitors before building a career in journalism.

He had three daughters, Veryan, Bronwen, and Jenna, and two step-daughters Poz and Maddie, and 11 grandchildren.

He is survived by two sisters, Carolyn Arthurs and Jane Revill.

His brother Huw Weekes, a journalist and newsreader for HTV Wales, died tragically in 2001.