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Former group editor at weekly series dies aged 84

A former group editor at a series of local newspapers who spent half a century in journalism has died at the age of 84.

John Yates, left, worked for a series of local and national titles before becoming group editor of the Guardian series in Epping Forest, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, now part of Newsquest.

He began his career as a copy boy with the Daily Mirror at the age of 14, then gained his first reporting role with the Dagenham Post.

Tributes have been paid to John after he died at his home on 30 December.

His daughter Jacqueline told the Everything Epping Forest website: “He was very much an old-style journalist. He always believed in the old-fashioned way of journalism.

“He was always a believer that you went out to look for a story rather than sit in the office and wait for the story to come to you.”

After beginning his reporting career with the Dagenham Post, John became an accredited local news correspondent with the Daily Mirror and other national titles, as well as London evening papers.

He went on to work for the Essex Weekly News and in 1946 joined the Loughton edition of the then West Essex Gazette, now Guardian.

After carrying out National Service, John returned to the Gazette in 1949 and in the early 1950s was elected the founder chairman of the West Essex and East Herts branch of the National Union of Journalists, with him serving as the Gazette’s Father of Chapel for many years.

In the 1960s and 1970s he re-joined the Royal Navy for a few weeks each year and travelled the world, including to the Middle East and Far East, writing articles on servicemen and servicewomen.

At the Gazette, John gained a number of promotions and became editor of the series before he was promoted to group editor of London and Essex Guardian Newspapers in 1977. He joined the board of directors the following year.

In the group editor role, he launched several new editions, including the Bishop’s Stortford Citizen and the Waltham Abbey Gazette.

John also served on a regional advisory committee of the National Council for the Training of Journalists and was involved with the training of journalists at Harlow College.

He became a magistrate in 1972 in Epping and Ongar, later becoming chairman of the bench at Epping, and also served as a governor at a primary school.

John leaves his wife Joan, daughters Jacqueline and Julie, son-in-laws John and Danny, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

His funeral will be held on 17 January at St Mary’s Church, Theydon Bois.