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Obituary: Former editor of Highland newspaper was old-school journalist who loved the craic with folk

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Laurence Ford.
Laurence Ford.

A good journalist never takes things at face value.

In a press release, statement or interview, he or she always looks to see if anything has been hidden away either deliberately or mistakenly. You are looking for the line that will make your story special.

Laurence Ford was a great journalist and would have spotted it straight away. And it is actually a line – it’s that little one between 1949 and 2021.

For that little line represents 71 years of a life well lived at work and play. A talented journalist and fine outdoorsman and good father, family man, friend and companion.

I first met Laurence 43 years ago when I moved to Inverness. He was holding court at a pub bar entertaining a group of newspapermen with an exceedingly long and bawdy poem.

Our paths and careers criss-crossed over the decades and in the last 19 years we became firm friends and colleagues.

He was an old-school journalist and proud of it. He was honest, accurate, determined and could turn around a story quickly and in a manner that required little or no alteration.

He was likeable and loved the craic with folk – and as the pub was the haunt of a journalist, he built up hundreds of contacts from all walks of life.

He also spent many years covering the courts in around the Highlands and was equally at home conversing with sheriffs, lawyers, fiscals, police and often the rogues that had been in the dock.

Over the years, he therefore built up an extensive contacts book.

He was an enthusiastic angler and deer stalker. He loved the outdoors and was familiar with many rivers and hills around the Highlands.

The pinnacle of his career was the 14 years he spent as editor of the Ross-shire Journal bringing all his experience and skills to successfully running the busy weekly title.

Many people underestimated Laurence because of his laid-back attitude to life and work. He could sometimes be cantankerous and stubborn – and his timekeeping left a lot to be desired.

But when the chips were down he was loyal and always produced the goods – he had the contacts and skills to quickly turn round an urgent story on deadline. A total professional.

Four years ago, he took up a new career with his beloved partner Seonaid running a guest house. And he was enormously proud of his son Andrew.

Obituary by Paul Breen

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