TRIBUTES have poured in for North-East broadcasting veteran Kathy Secker who has died at her home aged 70.

Her body was discovered by police at her home in Jesmond, Newcastle, yesterday (Tuesday, December 15) after she failed to arrive for a day out with a friend.

Kathy moved into television in 1979 when she won a competition to be the new face of Tyne Tees and soon became a household name.

She left the station in 1985 before returning five years later. In 1993, she became chief announcer alongside Bill Steel.

Kathy presented Tonight in 1996 and several programmes, including Kathy & Co, for Tyne Tees until she joined the BBC.

She was loved by a generation of viewers as the presenter of the birthday slot announcing celebratory messages from viewers twice a day.

Her family said in a statement: "We know Kathy was held the hearts of many in the North-East from her years presenting with Tyne Tees and BBC Radio, and for her work founding and building Grace House in Sunderland.

"To her family though she was just a much loved mum, sister, step-mum and Glamma.

"We are all so shocked and sad and ask that we be left to grieve at this time."

Michaele Byrne, head of news at ITV Tyne Tees, said: "Everyone at ITV Tyne Tees was deeply saddened to hear the news of Kathy's death.

"She was a much-loved presenter in the region and viewers still talk about the excitement they felt when Kathy read out their name on the Tyne Tees birthday slot.

"She was loved, too, by staff and remained a close friend to many. We will remember her for her lovely smile and personality to match.

"She'll be much-missed and we send our condolences to her family and friends."

She joined BBC Radio Newcastle in 1994, where her career saw her strike up a remarkable relationship with the listeners, taking requests and dedications personally on the phone and talking to them at great length.

BBC Newcastle editor Doug Morris said: “Kathy’s passing comes as a huge shock to all of us at the radio station. Kathy was a genuine friend to so many of us here. Working with her was always such a pleasure.

“Kathy was a consummate professional broadcaster who truly understood the connection between local radio and our audience. We know how much our listeners will miss her and our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.”

BBC Newcastle’s late show presenter, Paddy MacDee said “I’ve known Kathy for many years, my wife Lyn worked with her for many years at Tyne Tees in the 80’s.

"She was a really lovely person and huge fun to be around, she’ll be sorely missed by everyone who worked with her and the audience.”

Dr Karen Parry, chief executive officer of Grace House children's hospice said: “Everybody associated with Grace House was shocked and saddened by the news.

“Kathy put her heart and soul into turning the vision for Grace House into a reality, and her passion and commitment will always be remembered through the legacy she has left.

“Hundreds of children with complex disabilities, health needs and life limiting conditions will benefit from her work, and everyone at Grace House would like to express their admiration and gratitude for all her hard work. My thoughts go out to her family at this very difficult time.”

Kathy, who was born in Bedlington, Northumberland had two children, two stepchildren and two grandchildren.

She initially went to work in a bank but in her early 20's decided to try her hand at modelling and ended up gracing international catwalks and later became the face of the Northern Gas Board. 

Her daughter Jayne followed in her mother's footsteps becoming a presenter on Sky News.

BBC Newcastle's Sunday evening present Michael Poulter will be broadcasting a tribute programme to Kathy this Sunday, December 20th in her regular show time of 2 to 5 pm.