HAMPSHIRE sport is mourning the loss of much-loved former Southern Evening Echo and BBC journalist John Hughes.

The legendary broadcaster has passed away after a long battle with illness, following a distinguished career in local journalism.

Hughes, who was from Nottingham, began his career as a colleague of BBC legend John Motson on the Sheffield Star and worked for the Echo as a sports reporter/sub-editor for five years after joining in the late 1960s, following several years in Rhodesia working for The Herald.

After leaving the Echo, he made the transition from newspapers to radio and television as a freelancer and soon built a reputation as the voice of Hampshire sport on BBC Radio Solent and South Today, commentating on Saints, Pompey and Hampshire Cricket.

Daily Echo:

John Hughes with former Radio Solent co-commentator Kevan James at The Rose Bowl in 2002

He also worked as a press officer at Hampshire and edited the Saints programme for many years.

Hughes, who was educated at Lancing College, lived in Bassett.

After a long illness, he spent the last five years in a nursing home a goal-kick away from The Dell.

He died at the weekend aged 79, just a few months after former Pompey and Hampshire star Mike Barnard, his co-commentator on Hampshire Cricket matches for several summers, passed away.

Hughes is survived by his devoted wife Pat, two children and grandchildren.

Mike Vimpany, John’s former colleague, wrote the following tribute on facebook: “John was my mentor as I embarked into sports writing and broadcasting, and became a great friend over a long period of time.

“He was a decent footballer and cricketer: a great bloke with whom the media ‘team’ spent many often amusing hours as he rushed around, often in a chaotic state as he tried to make radio and TV broadcasting deadlines.

“We had endless hours of fun in his company travelling to Hampshire cricket, Pompey and Saints away games, the days long before satnavs.”