A FORMER Bolton Evening News reporter has lost his battle against throat cancer.

Neil Marr, who also worked at inter-national newspapers, started his working life down the pit but made his way around the world before settling in Menton, France, where he was the co-founder and editor in chief of the pioneering publishing company BeWrite Books — one of the first independent publishers to produce eBooks in great numbers.

And earlier this year he launched Neil Marr Editorial promising to "take your job and polish it until it sparkles".

Mr Marr died from throat cancer on April 17 in the south of France, aged 64.

After more than 40 years in newspapers — starting at the Horwich and Westhoughton office of the Bolton Evening News before moving on to a Wigan news agency — Mr Marr broke into books in 2001 co-writing Bullycide — Death at Playtime with Tim Field.

It followed his experiences in 1966 when, as a cub reporter, he covered a huge police search for a missing child who lived in Wigan.

He recollected in 2009: “The search for Stephen Shepherd was the biggest UK police operation in UK history.

"When a child went missing, folks paled and talked of paedophile killings similar to those committed by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.

"It turned out that the wee boy — 12-year-old Steve — hadn’t been murdered at all — he’d taken his own life because he could no longer face school bullies.

“The media then lost interest and dropped the story... no juicy murder.

“I never did lose interest. It haunted me for more than 30 years.

"This was Bullycide, a catchy word I had to invent to snatch attention and to conveniently fit newspaper headlines — it’s now entered specialist vocabulary.

“I was driven to do wee Steve justice; tell his tale and that of others in his predicament. More than 30 years later I kept the promise I’d secretly made at his funeral to tell the whole truth.”

Former Sunday People newspaper colleague Dave Brammer wrote on Facebook: “Neil was a huge character, funny, witty, a bon viveur.

"Generous with his time and money and someone who would always make you smile whenever you encountered him.”

Mr Marr, who was originally from Scotland, leaves a partner, Skovia, son Sandy and daughter Kirsten.