Obituary: Tributes to Star Education Reporter

Mike Russell outside Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground
Mike Russell outside Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground

Tributes have been paid to The Star’s Education Reporter Mike Russell who has died aged 58.

Mike joined The Star as a news reporter in December 1988 from the Pontefract and Castleford Express.

One of his early assignments was covering the Hillsborough disaster the following April.

He was promoted to Education Reporter in October 1993 and spent more than 20 years in the role becoming a well-known and popular figure among headteachers and education chiefs.

A former pupil at King Edward VII School in Broomhill, Mike studied English at Cambridge University.

He briefly dabbled with a career in accountancy before realising his future lay with words rather than numbers.

Friend John Holmes said: “I knew Mike for more than 46 years, since we first met at King Edward VII School in 1969 as part of the very first comprehensive intake.

“He was highly intelligent, a bit of a rebel and with a wicked sense of humour.

“As he went off and studied English at Cambridge we thought he was destined for the literary heights, but after trying one or two things he settled down as a journalist at The Star, and spent what I feel was a very contented career on his home turf, living in Broomhill, committed to local issues.

“Always a keen follower of Sheffield Tigers speedway, a season ticket holder at Hillsborough for the last 30 years, a keen follower of cricket at county and international level and a great passion for music, always keeping up with the latest bands/artists and incredibly well informed. A good, genuine friend and always great company.”

The Star’s Editor James Mitchinson said:“I only worked very briefly with Mike, but I’d like to think he delivered one of the best pieces of work in his entire career for me.

“I recall quite vividly how uncomfortable I made him feel when I told him that I’d like him to recount his version of events surrounding the Hillsborough disaster. It was for our 25th anniversary commemorative supplement, and he covered the story on the ground in 1989.

“What Mike delivered was a melancholy recollection in his own poetic prose; a quite profound account of events that day.

“It was word perfect. Mike always was. When I thanked him, he was his ever-humble self. Not wanting to revel in any praise, fuss or otherwise.

“The Star will miss Mike. Sheffield will miss him, too.”

Jackie Drayton, cabinet member for children, young people and families at Sheffield Council, said: “In all my dealings with Mike over the years he was always professional, engaged and involved as well as very knowledgeable about education. He was an excellent journalist.”

Mike, who had cancer, died on Wednesday.