The Sun’s health features editor Christina Earle, who masterminded its first ever health awards, has died suddenly aged 31.
Earle has been described as the “perfect journalist” and a “perfect colleague” following her death on Friday last week.
She is survived by husband Oli, whom she married last year.
Earle joined the Sun as a freelancer in 2011 before joining the paper’s staff. She was promoted to health features editor in 2017 and launched the inaugural Who Cares Win awards for NHS staff later the same year.
Head of features Colin Robertson said: “Christina was the perfect journalist – she really knew her stuff and could clearly and expertly explain what would often be a highly-complicated medical story.
“And she was deeply passionate about her patch. Anyone who was at The Sun’s incredibly moving Who Cares Wins awards – that she masterminded – could not have failed to have heard glowing tributes to Christina from the many brilliant nominees.
“She cared about each and every one of them and was desperate to have their stories told and given proper credit for.
“But most of all Christina was a perfect colleague and friend to so many of us on The Sun. She was smart, she was kind, she was funny and she was always there to offer a helping hand. We will miss her every day.”
Earle paid her own tribute to colleague Nicki Waterman, who died of a brain tumour in August 2016, by cycling 187-miles in Southern India as part of a team challenge that raised more than £50,000 for Brain Tumour Research.
She said at the time: “It was Nicki’s wish to help others with brain tumours – something I promised her I would do.”
Earle had been destined to be a journalist from an early age. She told the Sun’s Top Talent online feature that she was just seven years old when she decided she wanted to be a journalist.
She said: “I flew through books at lightning speed and absorbed myself in all kinds of news. It seemed like the obvious career choice – even when I was in primary school – and I never contemplated doing anything else.
“At 14, I contacted my local paper and begged to do work experience. I’ve not looked back.”
The Sun’s assistant editor for features, Sean Hamilton, said her loss at such an early age was “utterly impossible to comprehend”.
He said: “I will miss her broad smile and her contagious enthusiasm. The Sun will never be the same again.
“Christina’s work ethic and attention to detail was remarkable. She was always so organised and on top of things. She was able to handle anything – whether it was a weekly eight-page health pullout, a Christmas campaign requiring daily content or a one-off complicated feature on edition.
“She often juggled all of those things at the same time. Christina constantly amazed me.
“I still can’t comprehend how she managed to distribute hundreds of thousands of toys to kids in December 2016. Or how she raised £125,000 for kids with cancer last Christmas.”
Hamilton said he had been due to catch up with Earle today about this year’s Who Cares Wins awards, which he described as “one of her proudest achievements”.
He added: “We are all going to feel her absence in the coming days, months and years. My heart goes out to her husband, her family and her friends.”
Former Sun health editor Lynsey Hope said: “Christina made it her business to save lives, and so I feel so incredibly sad that hers has come to an end prematurely.
“She had so much more to give, and so much more to live for. It’s thanks to her The Sun gave away thousands of organ donor cards last year… just before Christmas she helped orchestrate the Smiles at Christmas campaign, raising thousands for poorly children with CLIC Sargent.
“She has campaigned to raise awareness of everything from mental health, to breast and ovarian cancer.”
She added: “Christina was incredibly invested in everything she did, her friendships, her work and her marriage.
“She was an incredible support to me when I went on maternity leave, looking after the health section single-handedly. And again, when I returned to work part-time, she put in extra hours when I could not, and thrived.
“Her loss will be felt by many, especially new husband Oli. My thoughts are with him and her family.”
The Sun editor-in-chief Tony Gallagher said: “The heartfelt tributes paid to Christina by those that knew her best show just how dearly she will be missed.
“Her energy and passion for the job were evident in everything that she did, and she fought tirelessly for the people whose stories she told. She was a credit to the newspaper, and to her profession, and it is a tragedy to lose her so young.
“Her ability to explain complex medical stories with utter clarity made her a formidable journalist. She brought all this to bear in masterminding The Sun’s Who Cares Wins awards for NHS staff last year.
“A large number of the nominees had formed strong bonds with Christina as she told their stories and they were glowing in her praise.
“All of our thoughts are with her husband Oliver and her friends and family. May she rest in peace.”
Picture: The Sun/News UK