A CAMPAIGNING former editor of The Press, who took the newspaper tabloid and earned it a national campaigning newspaper of the year award, has died suddenly at the age of 64.

Lifelong Stoke City fan Kevin Booth, who edited The Press from 2004-2008, passed away in hospital on Sunday.

His wife Trish said he had been suffering from a lung condition known as sarcoidosis for several years.

He had been admitted to hospital a few days earlier with a flare-up of the condition, but had seemed to be responding well to treatment.

"We thought he was getting better and would be coming home," she said.

He even had tickets to see his beloved Stoke City play Middlesbrough on Saturday.

"But then he just deteriorated through Saturday night and Sunday," Trish said.

Mr Booth, who joined The Press in 2004 after previously editing the Peterborough Evening Telegraph, was the editor who switched the newspaper to a tabloid format.

During his tenure, in 2007, The Press picked up the Newspaper Society Award for national campaigning newspaper of the year after it brought about a change in the law on child abduction.

The newspaper launched the Change It! campaign in 2006 after a man who tried to abduct a York teenager from a bus stop was jailed for four years, but a judge was unable to put him on the sex offenders register - preventing the authorities from monitoring him on his release.

Other high-profile campaigns during Mr Booth's time in charge included the Stop The Highway Robbery campaign, in which the newspaper forced city councillors into a U-turn over controversial city centre parking charges and double yellow lines.

He was also in charge of the newspaper for the Guardian Angels appeal, in which, over the course of three years, readers donated £300,000 to enable a new high dependency children's unit to open at York Hospital.

Former Press deputy editor Bill Hearld, who worked closely with Mr Booth, said: "He was a superb journalist and a very, very good friend.

"He had three loves in his life: his wife, Trish; newspapers; and Stoke City.

"He came to York at a time of great change, and oversaw the move from broadsheet to tabloid, and also from afternoon to morning publication.

"He appointed me as his deputy. We didn't always see eye to eye - but we always made up over a pint or two.

"He was a real campaigning journalist who just loved newspapers. It was a terrible shock when I heard the news - tragic. My heart goes out to Trish."

Press chief reporter Mike Laycock, who also worked with Mr Booth, added: "Kevin was a strong editor, never afraid to take a stance on an issue and proclaim it on the front page."

After leaving The Press in 2008, Mr Booth went on to edit the Burton Mail and then the Leicester Mercury. More recently, he worked as head of communications for wealth management company Mattioli Woods, before retiring.

He leaves two grown-up children, Anna and Alex, from a previous marriage.

He and and Trish, who had been married for 22 years, lived in the village of Waterfall, in Staffordshire.

Trish said: "He was my best friend and my whole world. He was a real people person. He had friends right across the country, and he treated everybody with the same decency and respect no matter who they were."