Popular Sleaford journalist John Lavery has died suddenly at home.
John, 67, was a joint founder and highly respected editor of the Sleaford Advertiser for 18 years until its closure, and later editor of the Sleaford Standard for eleven and a half years.
The son of an RAF mess steward, he grew up in Sleaford when his parents settled to take charge of the former Conservative Club after a spell living in Aden while still with the RAF.
A Carre’s Grammar School pupil and active Old Carrensian, he started his working life at Kesteven County Council’s education office in Sleaford and had a brief time in a friend’s record business before working in advertising and then journalism. He set up the Sleaford Advertiser and when that closed spent a short time with the Newark Advertiser before being recruited as editor of the Sleaford Standard and steering it to becoming Most Improved Newspaper of the Year in 2001 in the paper’s parent company awards. On leaving the Standard in 2013, he became a part-time freelance journalist and assisted in many newsrooms in the south of the county right up to his death.
On leaving the Standard, John had commented: “I have particularly enjoyed working with an excellent team at Sleaford and I have been honoured to make many friends and acquaintances along the way through the paper.”
Long time colleague and News Editor at the Standard, Andy Hubbert, paid tribute saying: “John was a supportive colleague and friend, a listening ear to all our staff, while always dedicated to delivering a superior product.
“He would share stories of his sporting days and the many rock concerts he had been to and would take a genuine interest in our personal and professional progress.
“He was well-liked and respected and will be greatly missed.”
John married former school headteacher Karen on April Fool’s Day in 1999 and the couple shared a love of travel and hill walking.
Along with Karen, he ran Misty Meadows Alpacas in Maxey, near Market Deeping, where the couple lived.
In June this year he earned Rotarian of the Year for his commitment to Rotary Club of the Deepings and dedication to various charitable causes as a member and vice-president and was very much looking forward to taking over the presidency.
John had just started to organise the Rotary Young Musician of the Year due to take place in early 2020 at the Deeping School and was also planning to develop a sensory garden for a local family.
A good all-round sportsman, with over 100 trophies in the loft, he had a particular flair for badminton and tennis, being captain of Ruskington Tennis Club, Sleaford Badminton Club, chairman of Sleaford Tennis Club and running the Sleaford Athletic Football Club.
He was on the organising committee of the Sleaford Festival of Sport. He also instigated and organised the Sleaford Marathon in November 1980 to fundraise for toys for Christmas for children at local hospitals.
He fundraised for a local girl suffering from a rare medical condition and later became her godfather. He also raised funds for other local causes by taking on walking challenges including Hadrian’s Wall and the UK Three Peaks’ Challenge.
John was also a keen photographer, but his greatest passion was writing and he was in the process of seeking publishers for a children’s book.
He was a governor at Linchfield Community Primary School for a number of years and had become a governor at Willoughby School in Bourne.