WITH the death of best-selling author Leslie Thomas yesterday, Newport has lost one of its most famous sons.

His passing marks the loss of a prolific writer who managed always to stay outside of the literary establishment while forging ahead with a hugely successful career.

Born in the city, he lived here until the age of 12 when the tragic loss of first his father and then his mother within a matter of months, took him away from Newport to be brought up in a Dr Barnardo's children's home elsewhere in south Wales.

But while he may have left the city at a young age. he never forgot it.

And Newport obviously made an indelible impression on him for he continued to be a great advocate of the city, often speaking fondly about it wherever he went.

His most famous novel, which was based on his wartime experiences, The Virgin Soldiers, ultimately enabled him to leave his day job as a Fleet Street journalist to become a full time novelist.

And from then on he really never looked back, writing more than 30 novels over a long and successful career.

Having sold millions of books worldwide he was awarded a well-deserved OBE for services to literature in 2004.

Of course he will always be remembered as a brilliant story-teller but should also be remembered for his great sense of humour.

We send our condolences to his family and friends.