Born: May 20, 1943;

Died: June 15, 2015

John "Skipper" Easton, who has died after a short illness aged 72, was a former Herald reporter and assistant night news editor.

He was universally and affectionately known as "The Skipper" because of his decades-long crusade to promote the paddle-steamer Waverley, the world's last sea-going ship of her kind, and his tireless efforts back in the late 1970s to publicise and raise support for the ultimately successful fight to save her from the breaker's yard.

Since there were about six other "Johns" in the Herald newsroom at that time, it also helped avoid confusion when the newsdesk wanted to summon one of them to go out on stories.

Born in Harthill in Lanarkshire, he moved to Rothesay at an early age when his father Peter took over as manager of the local Co-operative store.

After leaving Rothesay Academy, his father tried to persuade him to apply for a job with the local council. A complete and self-admitted inability to count all the fingers on both hands and reach the same answer twice in a row put paid to that idea and at the age of 15, he instead took gainful employment as a trainee reporter on the Buteman, the island's local paper.

While there, he covered the famous occasion when the local Bute island council contemplated declaring unilateral independence from the UK. It began as a joke during a council debate, but quickly grew arms and legs and indeed, wings.

As word got out, American journalists and Fleet Street's finest descended on sleepy Rothesay and even Time magazine sent a team to cover the story. It also became a time of plenty for the Buteman staff, who coined in cash from selling the tale to outlets worldwide before the council finally called a halt to the lucrative charade.

Before then, John Easton had supplemented his meagre pay as a junior hack by working weekends as a stage hand at the local Winter Gardens, a venue frequented at the time of Clyde coast holiday hordes by the top variety acts of the day.

Andy Stewart, Chic Murray, the Alexander Brothers and comedian Lex McLean, as well as Emile Ford and the Checkmates of What Do You Wanna Make Those Eyes At Me For? fame, were among the artistes for whom he fetched and carried and occasionally carried on to the stage steps when they turned up over-refreshed or completely tired-and-emotional.

He was also bass guitarist in the Echoes, a Rothesay rock band which achieved local fame among the Clyde resorts and boasted Billy McIsaac,  who later played with Slik and Midge Ure as one of its members.

By the age of 18, he had outgrown the Buteman. He joined the staff of the Hamilton Advertiser and prospered there under the tutelage of editor George "The Hat" Downie.

To avoid having to travel each day to and from Rothesay, he took up residence with his Uncle Johnny in Wishaw, a move which also led to his inexplicable and lifelong attachment to Heart of Midlothian Football Club.

He met Morag, his wife of 45 years, at a party in Rothesay about this time. Romance blossomed and they married in Elderslie, close to her home town of Linwood, in 1970.

From Hamilton, given his writing talents, it was a natural leap to the dailies, and he became a Scotsman reporter in their Glasgow office in due course before moving to The Herald in 1972, where he remained on staff until 2002.

While there, he worked as a general news reporter, occasional and pithy feature writer and latterly as an assistant news editor on the night desk. Throughout it all, he took every opportunity to push the cause of the Waverley, the only rival his wife Morag ever had for his affections.

Almost uniquely among journalists, John Easton did not have an enemy in the world. His affable personality and dry sense of humour instead made friends of everyone he met.

In retirement in Largs, he continued his love of the sea and ships in general by sailing regularly during the Waverley's summer season and occasionally venturing further afield on cruise liners to France, Spain, Italy and North Africa.

The Skipper will be missed by his many friends and former colleagues and by the wider "families" of the Press Bar and the Waverley communities. He is survived by his wife, Morag.