The Borders editor who led campaign to save a county

David Johnstone oh hos 2005 retirement
David Johnstone oh hos 2005 retirement

The funeral of a former editor of a Borders newspaper and Southern journalist was held last Wednesday following his lengthy battle with cancer.

David Johnstone, who was 70, started work on The Southern’s sister title, The Berwickshire News, on June 8, 1959, after leaving Berwickshire High School.

He joined the editorial team as a junior reporter at the branch office in Duns under editor Alan Pass, and during his time with the Tweeddale Press he also worked on The Southern, Kelso Chronicle and Berwick Advertiser.

He took over the editor’s chair of The Berwickshire News in 1974.

Local government reorganisation during the 1990s raised the possibility that Berwickshire could be merged with East Lothian, much to the concern of the majority of residents of the former. 
Through The Berwickshire News, David immediately launched a campaign to prevent this.

“Keep Berwickshire in the Borders” stickers sprang up everywhere and this effort succeeded, resulting in Berwickshire remaining part of the Borders. Not many people can say that they’ve saved a county.

In 1997, David had the honour of winning the Weekly Newspaper of The Year title at the BT Scotland Press and Broadcast Awards.

Ill-health forced his retirement in 2005.

Former Berwick Advertiser editor Tony Langmack said it had been a privilege and pleasure to be a close friend and colleague of David’s for nearly 55 years.

He added: “David was an excellent journalist – fair, accurate, dependable and totally committed to The Berwickshire News.

“He was proud of the team of reporters and photographers he led. David spearheaded the paper’s successful drive into Dunbar and East Lothian, and played a key role in saving the King’s Own Scottish Borderers in the 1990s.”

Tony went on: “He also initiated a successful campaign to keep Berwickshire in the Borders.

“His contribution to Berwickshire and the eastern Borders was immense, his friendship was priceless.”

Outside the office David’s passion was horses and there was nothing he liked more than a day out hunting with the Berwickshire Hunt. Along with his wife, Liz, he also bred and schooled horses.