Tributes have been paid to a “dedicated” former editor who worked for a weekly for more than 30 years, after he lost his battle with cancer at the age of 66.
John Bennett, left, started his career as a junior reporter at the Tamworth Herald in the early 1960s at the age of 16 and remained at the title until 1998, serving as deputy editor for more than 20 years and as editor for two years.
He then went on to work in sub-editing roles at other newspapers including the Gloucestershire Echo and The Argus in Brighton before embarking on a new career path teaching adult literacy, including spending time teaching in prisons.
Tributes have been paid to John after he died following a long battle with cancer at Shenstone Hall Care Home near Lichfield on 1 June.
In a story about his death, Herald editor Gary Phelps said: “There are some people whose name is synonymous with the Herald, because of the impact they made on the paper and Tamworth itself during their time in our newsroom. John was one of those people.
“He could be a tough taskmaster to those who worked with him, but many young journalists learned at his feet and went on to great things as a result.
“He was dedicated to Tamworth and the Herald, and passionate about journalism and newspapers.
“Whenever I saw him in recent years we would chat about his time at the Herald, which he remembered with great fondness, and he was still an avid reader of the newspaper. John will be greatly missed. Tamworth has lost a big character.”
Former Herald deputy editor Phil Shanahan, who was a close friend of John, added: “The word character does not come close to doing justice to John Bennett. He was a local legend and will be talked about for years to come – and not only in journalistic circles.
“John was an old school journalist who was as equally brilliant at finding news as he was at writing it. Whilst he was outspoken at times and ruffled a few feathers, he was capable of great tenderness. He was honest too – sometimes too much! – but he was never false.
“Many talented journalists out there owe the skills – and the lives they have now – to the training that John gave them. John was many things, including a good friend, but the one thing he will never be is forgettable.”
During his time at the Herald, John trained scores of young reporters and served for many years as chairman of Tamworth’s Crime Prevention Panel.
He leaves a son James, daughter Victoria and granddaughters Megan and Isabel.
John’s funeral will be held on 21 June at 10.30am at St Editha’s Church in Tamworth, followed by cremation at Sutton Crematorium. Donations will be split between St Editha’s Church and the school attended by his granddaughters, in line with his wishes to fund a prize for endeavour, possibly in literacy.