Former Seaton journalist dies abroad

John Fletcher

John Fletcher - Credit: Archant

Tributes paid to John Fletcher, 65, a devoted family man and respected newspaper reporter

John Fletcher (third from the right) with the Pulman's Weekly News team on a visit to Pecorama in B

John Fletcher (third from the right) with the Pulman's Weekly News team on a visit to Pecorama in Beer in the 1980s. - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to a popular and respected former Seaton newspaper reporter who has died on a trip abroad.

Devoted father and grandfather John Fletcher, who was 65, worked for many years as a journalist covering the Axe Valley for Pulman’s Weekly News.

Later he joined the Exeter based Express and Echo and worked there until two years ago, covering the Exmouth area where he lived.

After dedicating his entire career to journalism, his family said he had received a “new lease of life” when he took a job as a teaching assistant at the Beacon School, in Exmouth, where he proudly passed on his literacy expertise to young children.

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It was on a trip with the school to Budapest where John had a suspected heart attack and died on Saturday evening (October 19).

He leaves behind three children, sons Craig and Matthew, and daughter Justine. He also had six grandchildren and adored his family.

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On behalf of the family Craig said: “Our Dad was a true gentleman, he was a dedicated grandfather to his six grandchildren.

“He always had a smile on his face and was truly loved by his family.”

John spent his career working as a dedicated journalist and balanced this with bringing up a family of successful children. Those who knew him best said he would always ensure others were thought of before him. He was well known for his charm and sense of humour and he remained highly regarded by all who knew and worked with him.

After working for several papers including the Birmingham Mail and Express and Star, John moved to Devon and worked for many years as the Seaton and Beer reporter for Pulman’s Weekly News, when it was part of the Western Gazette group.

He took a staff job at the Express and Echo in the late 1990s and took great pleasure in covering the towns and villages of East Devon.

Ed Oldfield, Echo production editor, said: “John was a journalist of the old school, charming, funny, down-to-earth, always cheerful and ready with a joke, even in the toughest circumstances, and relentless in pursuit of a good story.

“I met him regularly in Exmouth after he left the Echo, and John clearly delighted in his new job as a teaching assistant. He enjoyed working the youngsters, passing on his love of writing and stimulating their desire to discover more about the world around them.”

David Beasley senior reporter on the Exmouth Journal said: “Fletch was a reporter from the old school - when I first started out he gave me lots of tips and a few good leads. Probably more than he should have considering he worked on a paper for a different company.

“He knew everyone, wrote some amazing stories, was a tenacious rival and he kept us all at the Journal on our toes. And he was a thoroughly nice chap. He was part of Exmouth’s landscape and we will all miss him.”

Midweek Herald reporter Chris Carson, who worked with John on Pulman’s Weekly News in the 1980s, described him as a true professional with a keen eye for “a good story”.

“He really understood – and cared about - the community he covered and turned in some great tales over the years,“ he said. “He was a kind man with a generous spirit, always ready to offer help and advice when it was asked for. And he had a great sense of humour.”

Speaking on behalf of the staff and governors at the Beacon School, chairman of governors Vivien Duval-Steer, said: “John was a highly valued and popular member of staff who was truly inspirational with the children.

“They liked and respected him and he will be greatly missed by us all. Our sincere sympathy and condolences are with his family at this sad time.”

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