Tributes paid to former Luton News ads manager John Cook

Tributes are being paid to a former Luton News employee who was also a keen sportsman, dancer and treasured family man.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 10:19 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 10:20 am

John Cook died on January 21, aged 90, leaving behind a 40-year legacy at Home Counties newspapers, having first worked as an advertising manager for the Luton News, and then for the group as a whole.

It was at the Luton News offices in Alma Street that John first met his future wife, Ann, when Ann was a temp, and John an assistant manager.

Ann Cook, 87, said: “He was charming, he was good looking. The first time he asked me out was because of his job; he had to go to things like dinner dances and needed a plus one.

John Cook, who was born in Hackney and raised in Leighton Buzzard. On dancing, Ann said: “John just loved it. He adored it.”

“We went to a Chamber of Commerce dinner dance and I was just absolutely delighted that he could dance because I loved dancing.

“He had a lovely laugh. He was quiet in company quite often, but then he’d laugh and everybody would notice him!”

John and Ann enjoyed tea dances at The Old George Hotel, and were inspired to learn Latin American styles.

The couple achieved top marks, and went on to compete “all over the place”.

They enjoyed meeting people and were friends with the family of Strictly Come Dancing siblings Kevin and Joanne Clifton.

The couple were married in 1966 at Luton Registry Office and lived in Stopsley and then Turnpike Drive, before finally settling in Streatley.

Ann had a son, Mark, from her previous marriage who “John took on immediately as his own,” Ann said: “John treated him as his son and Mark adored him of course. He was a marvellous father. He would take him swimming, and play cricket on the beach when we went on holiday.”

Indeed, John was an avid cricketer, having played for Luton Town. When he retired from work in 1982 he also enjoyed running, but suffered from heart trouble and needed to have a defibrillator fitted.

Sadly, John died from heart failure, and Ann thanks all the staff at Harefield Hospital who helped him over the years.

Mark, who is a journalist and was employed on a postgrad journalism scheme at the Luton News, said: “He was highly thought of by business people in the town. He was also a member of Luton North Rotary Club, for which he edited a newsletter that twice won the regional Rotary award for best newsletter (I used to sub it for him). This from a man who left school at 14 without much education.”