Peter Willis (Image: MDM)

The Mirror’s former editor and the founder of Pride of Britain, Peter Willis, has passed away suddenly.

Peter was a senior executive at the Mirror for 23 years, taking on the roles of editor of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People during his career.

Peter worked at the Manchester Evening News before moving to London and a stint at The Sun before joining the Daily Mirror as launch editor of Saturday supplement The Look in 1997.

While his journalist contribution was enormous, perhaps his single greatest achievement was conceiving and launching the Pride of Britain Awards – which grew from strength to strength under his leadership, becoming a much-loved night of recognition for the UK’s unsung heroes.

Peter worked tirelessly to make the Pride of Britain Awards what they are today
(Image: Birmingham Mail)

Lloyd Embley, group editor-in-chief of Reach, the Mirror’s publisher, said: “Without his drive, creativity and tenacity, Pride of Britain would never have become the national institution it is today.

“He always knew what was needed to add that extra bit of magic and sparkle to the event every year – and he never gave up in his pursuit of perfection. It was something to behold. He was an immense talent and we will miss him terribly.

“All our thoughts are with Peter’s family at this difficult time as they deal with this tragic event, especially his wife Nicky and their two boys."

Peter Willis meeting Prince Charles during his work for Pride of Britain
(Image: Daily Mirror)

Reach PLC’s CEO Jim Mullen said: “I am deeply saddened by the loss of Peter and my deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends.

“I know that Peter was a much-loved colleague and achieved so much during his career, in particular as the driving force behind the Pride of Britain Awards that have become a national event.

“We will of course provide all possible support to the family and colleagues now and moving forward.”