A FORMER colleague of Colin Dexter who emigrated to New Zealand has died from cancer aged 56.

Born in Surrey, Mark Nicholas Masterson moved to Oxford as a child when his dad, Peter, was appointed College Steward at St Johns College.

He attended St Edmund Campion school before moving on to study a masters in English at Dundee University.

On graduation, he returned to Oxford and worked at the Delegacy of Local Examinations in Summertown, where he met the crime writer and Inspector Morse creator.

Mr Dexter took up the post of senior assistant secretary at the delegacy when deafness forced him to retire from teaching in 1966.

He worked there until his retirement in 1988 during which time he wrote the first seven Morse books.

The delagacy, founded in 1857, administered examinations in a range of subjects including for school pupils, teachers and Rhodes Scholars.

Set up to examine boys of school leaving age who couldn’t afford a university education, the organisation changed greatly during the 1980s when GCSEs were introduced.

It was closed in 1995 and replaced with Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR).

Mr Masterson met his wife Michelle at the delegacy.

In 1989 they married in Dundee where his brother Wayne and his family were living.

The couple emigrated to Auckland, New Zealand, in late 1989 and lived and worked there ever since.

But Oxford remained close to his heart and he often returned to visit friends and family over the last 30 years.

His father was a regular writer to local newspapers and Mark continued this tradition by forming the South Auckland Letter Writing Society, writing to various well known persons and organisations on topical issues.

Mr Masterson worked for a national engineering firm, being responsible in his last years with them for negotiating major contracts with companies and other major agencies.

Both in Oxford and in New Zealand he played football and tennis and followed cricket and rugby, celebrating Ireland’s win over the All Black in his last days.

He passed away on November 26 after a long battle with cancer, an illness which he bore with enormous dignity over this time.

A funeral was held at the Purewa Cemetary, Auckland, New Zealand, on Friday December 7.

He is survived by wife Michelle, mother Liz,and brother Piers.