'Voice of Boro' Ali Brownlee loses cancer battle

Ali Brownlee
Ali Brownlee

Tributes have been paid to a legendary North East sports broadcaster who lost his battle with cancer.

BBC Tees' 'Voice of the 'Boro' presenter Ali Brownlee has died three months after being diagnosed.

Mr Brownlee, 56, who commentated on Middlesbrough FC for more than 30 years, died at home in Middlesbrough on Sunday night surrounded by family.

Fellow BBC Tees presenter Neil Green said: "We are all heartbroken by today's news.

"Away from the microphone, Ali was such a warm, generous and kind man who genuinely cared for his work colleagues.

"I will miss his energy, his voice and his smile that I arrived to work to every morning.

"Whatever the pressure, he was always upbeat and would always offer a solution of whatever was going on.

"The North East, Middlesbrough and BBC Tees is a darker place without him today."

Born in Byelands Street in Middlesbrough, Ali Brownlee worked in a bank before getting his break in broadcasting in 1982, when the BBC offered him the chance to report on 'Boro.

He worked closely with the club's charitable arm, the Middlesbrough Foundation, and also raised funds for charities such as Children in Need, Sport Relief and children's hospice Zoe's Place, for which he was an ambassador.

Another BBC Tees presenter, Lisa McCormick, said: "Sometimes you build up a picture of what a person's like by listening to them on the radio but it's not quite who they are.

"In Ali's case, that big bubbly character full of passion and enthusiasm for life is exactly who he was in real life.

"I'll never forget how he greeted us each and every morning with his big booming voice 'good morning, are you well?'.

"Ali's positivity was relentless, I'll miss him terribly but I feel lucky to have known him, not only as a colleague but as a friend."