Tributes to popular newsagent

Alaec St John
Alaec St John

TRIBUTE has been paid to a well-known Motherwell newsagent and Rotarian who passed away last Monday.

Alex St John MBE (87) was a familiar face to many in the town having run a newsagents on The Loaning for several decades.

He was also an active member of the community and served the Rotary Club of Motherwell and Wishaw for over 50 years.

Alex was born in Hamilton on April 24, 1924, and moved to Motherwell with his family at the age of three.

He was brought up in the Calder Road and Roman Road areas along with siblings Isobel and Ian.

He was educated at Merry Street Primary School and Dalziel High, and took lessons in classical violin from a young age. By the age of 12, Alex was playing in a number of church orchestras.

Influenced by the jazz and swing music coming from America at the time, he bought a saxophone and clarinet, and joined a local dance band.

After leaving school, he started to train as an accountant at George Russell and Co, Crane Builders on Park Street.

However, he was conscripted to the RAF in 1942 and served as a radio radar mechanic until 1946.

On demobilisation, he returned to his job with George Russell, but left in 1950 to set up his own business.

He opened a news agency and Post Office on The Loaning and was appointed sub postmaster, a post he held for 35 years.

Over time, Alex and his family operated two Post Offices and three newsagents in Motherwell. On setting up the business, he joined the Newsagents Federation, which covered the UK and eventually part of Europe.

Alex started at branch level and served on various committees, holding a number of offices, including national president in 1974-75.

He would later become chairman of the European union and travel widely across Britain and the continent.


In 2000, Alex was awarded an MBE at Buckingham Palace for services to the news industry.

Alex also had much happiness in his personal life, marrying wife Helen at the EU Congregational Church in Motherwell in 1949.

The pair had three children - Stephen, Raymond and Margaret - and six grandchildren - Laura, Emma, Dawn, Jayne, David and Lynsey, as well as a great granddaughter, Eve.

Alex was a keen sportsman and participated at various times in his life at football, badminton, golf and bowls.

He and Helen celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in June 2009 with a family gathering at the Crieff Hydro Hotel.

Sadly, Helen passed away in November.

As well as his family, a big part of Alex’s life was the local Rotary Club, which he served in a number of capacities over the years, including president in 1971.

In 2009, he received the Paul Harris Fellowship Award in recognition of his exceptional service to Rotary.

Members paid tribute to their friend at their recent meeting, holding a minute’s silence in his honour.

Senior vice-president Ian Carrol said: “Alex was a Rotarian in the truest sense - a man of integrity, showing concern and care for others, always with a cheery word and a friendly smile, respected in the community and further afield.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his children Stephen, Raymond and Margaret, and their families, and of course with his brother Ian and sister Isobel.”

The family was making funeral arrangements as we went to press.