MUCH-LOVED TV journalist and former Daily Echo reporter Martin Dowse has died at the age of 50.

Martin, who was married with two teenage sons, had been suffering from cancer for four years.

Described as a "much-loved husband, father, son, brother, friend and colleague", Martin leaves behind his wife Alison and sons Henry, 18, and 15-year-old Oliver, along with the family's beloved Labrador Rupert.

Friends have told how Martin was so determined to survive and had such a positive will to succeed that it came as a shock to many when he finally passed away.

Martin grew up in Lincolnshire, where his mother still lives. He moved away from home when he went to university.

He worked at the Daily Echo in its Wimborne and Christchurch offices in the early 1990s before moving to ITV News Meridian in 1994. Martin became the programme's Dorset reporter a few years later.

Colleagues described him as "the consummate professional, an excellent journalist, respected by all who worked alongside him. He had a calm, kind, trusting manner and, as a result, often secured interviews where others failed. He really cared about people and believed in fairness in all aspects of life."

ITV News Meridian presenter Fred Dinenage said: "Martin was a pleasure to work with. A great man who showed feeling and passion in his job. I was honoured to work with him."

Kim Hewitt, Programme and Digital Editor, added: "Words cannot express how sad we all are at the loss of a fantastic colleague. Martin was a brave man. He never complained, even when he was struggling, and would continue to work through chemotherapy and more. I am proud to have known him."

During his career Martin tackled a wide range of stories ranging from gritty crime to driving engines at the Great Dorset Steam Fair. He was a favourite among ITV viewers and colleagues who added: "Martin was a hugely popular person and was equally admired for his brilliant journalism as he was for his warmth and cracking sense of humour."

Martin lived in Bournemouth and his life will be celebrated at his funeral service at Bournemouth Crematorium on Thursday September 20.