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Ex-regional press chief and ‘dedicated newspaper man’ dies aged 54

John SimmonsA former regional press chief described as “steadfast, trustworthy and clever” has died aged 54.

Tributes have been paid to John Simmons, left, who was finance manager of The Scotsman Publications and company secretary of Tweeddale Press.

During his career, John helped steer the Berwick-upon-Tweed-based Tweeddale Press from a private limited company to a subsidiary of Johnston Press, following the sale of the business by the Smail family in 1999.

He then went on to take charge of financial matters at The Scotsman Publications, in Edinburgh.

Former Tweeddale Press and Scotsman managing director Stuart Birkett said: “John was a huge force behind the success of Tweeddale Press Limited, both as a private company and after it was acquired by Johnston Press plc. He then went on to deliver the same incredible level of business support at The Scotsman.

“John was unusual, in that as well as being a superb management accountant, he was also a dedicated newspaper man.”

Frank O’Donnell, editor of The Scotsman, added: “Steadfast, trustworthy and clever, John was a man who would have been an asset to any team.

“He made The Scotsman a more interesting and happy place to work. We will miss him greatly.”

John left JP in 2016 after 30 years of service to join Scottish Borders Housing.

Away from work, John was a keen sportsman who played rugby for Berwick Colts and Berwick RFC first XV, while his 40-year cricket career saw him play for and captain Berwick Cricket Club, and represent the South of Scotland.

He also served as a voluntary director of Berwick Preservation Trust for 22 years, helping deliver a number of high profile regeneration projects in the Northumberland town.