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Tributes paid to former chief sub

Tributes have been paid to former Scunthorpe Telegraph chief sub-editor John Beacock, who has died aged 69.

John was one of the longest-serving members of the paper’s editorial staff, joining in 1966 and retiring in 1998.

He began his career as a junior reporter on the former Scunthorpe Star after being inspired to enter the realms of journalism by a man he met during his national service days in the RAF.

As a military policeman he had locked up a prisoner who told him how he had been a reporter, leading John to pursue a career in newspapers.

John joined the staff of the Telegraph in 1966 as its chief reporter, working for a short while in Grimsby before moving to Scunthorpe.

He also specialised in local government and industrial reporting before joining the subs’ desk.

Paying tribute to John, Scunthorpe Telegraph deputy editor Jane Manning said: “When I arrived, John was chief sub-editor, and as such was a prominent figure in the newsroom. He combined professionalism and personality.

“He knew the job inside out and was a mine of information. I had great respect for him.”

Reporter Nick Cole, a friend for more than 40 years, said: “John was a true professional, a solid family man and an adventurer.”

Another longstanding colleague, Nigel Fisher, who worked for and alongside John for many years, said: “John gave 100 per cent to this paper and was regarded by successive editors, and his work colleagues, as a thoroughly reliable all-round journalist who could be relied on to rally round in a crisis.

“After retiring, he liked socialising with his former colleagues, supporting the annual cricket match between the Scunthorpe and Grimsby Telegraphs when he could, and he also enjoyed chatting to old friends at the Telegraph pensioners’ Christmas party.”

Another colleague, sports editor Bob Steels, said: “When I first arrived as a ‘cub’ reporter at the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph in 1970, John immediately took me under his wing – as he did all new young recruits.

“My first assignment was to write about a flowering yucca tree – and John quickly taught me how to present it as a story both informative and amusing for readers of the paper.

“One of his finest hours was in 1974 during the Flixborough disaster, when he helped mobilise the Telegraph news team for a story covered by news agencies worldwide.

“John was then instrumental in the lay-out and design of how the paper told in detail of the industrial tragedy which claimed the lives of 28 people in a chemical explosion.

“It was John again at the helm of page design when the Telegraph changed from broadsheet to tabloid in 1990.

“Away from his desk, he helped organise many press socials and was an active member of the Telegraph team which played in the Scunthorpe Midweek Friendly Cricket League – though quick singles were never his forte!”

A funeral service for John will be held at 10.30am in Woodlands Crematorium, Scunthorpe, on Thursday, when a collection will be taken in lieu of flowers for the British Heart Foundation.