Trailblazing journalist and former Sunday People editor Bridget Rowe has passed away, aged 70.
Bridget died on Tuesday after contracting Covid-19 in hospital, her son Peter Nolan said.
She was admitted to the Princess Royal University Hospital in Farnborough, Bromley, on Boxing Day after becoming ill with seizures.
Born in March 1950, Bridget rose to the top of Fleet Street when journalism was still very male-dominated.
She worked at magazines including 19, Petticoat, Club, Look Now and Women’s World before joining The Sun as assistant editor.
After stints as editor of the News of the World’s magazine Sunday, Woman’s Own and TV Times, Bridget became editor of the Sunday Mirror in 1991.
In 1992 she moved to edit the People. Under her inspirational leadership, circulation figures shot up and we were named National Newspaper of the Year and Sunday Newspaper of the Year in the 1996 Newspaper Industry Awards.
The judges, headed by Sir David Frost, said the paper “knows its readers intimately and gives them what they want”.
In 1997, Bridget returned to edit the Sunday Mirror for a year and was at the helm when the paper published exclusive photos of Princess Diana kissing Dodi Fayed on a yacht weeks before her death.
After leaving national newspapers, she took up several high-profile communication roles, including public relations chief for businessman and UKIP donor Arron Banks.
Bridget, who lived in Biggin Hill, Bromley, was also invited to be a panellist on the first series of ITV’s Loose Women in 1999.
Son Peter, 33, who works in financial services, said: “I couldn’t be prouder to call Bridget Rowe my mother. She climbed the career ladder in an era that was male-dominated and got to the top (or very near) of the print journalism world.
“Her career acts as an inspiration for me and I have found out in the last few days her achievements inspired so many.”
Paul Bennett, a friend and former picture editor at the Sunday Mirror and People, described her as “brash, opinionated, fair and talented”.
He said: “She wanted lots of investigative journalism from her team and made the paper all about exclusive stories and pictures.
“She had everyone’s respect and they did good work with her. She will be missed.”