His task in the latter job was to prepare reporters' copy for insertion into the paper. This involved tightening the story if it needed it, changing clumsy phrasing and cutting to length (each story is fitted into a page rather like a jigsaw).
An important part, however, was correcting grammatical errors and, in particular, adding, deleting or moving apostrophes. It constantly amazed him how often reporters, especially the younger ones, seemed to have no idea of the correct use of this very useful little device.
When John retired, this irritation didn't disappear but became even more obvious. Everywhere he went he saw the same mistakes over and over again until he decided that he could no longer ignore it. So he formed the Apostrophe Protection Society in the hope that he would find half a dozen like-minded people.
He takes up the story: "I didn't find half a dozen people. Instead, within a month of my plaint appearing in a national newspaper, I received over 500 letters of support, not only from all corners of the United Kingdom, but also from America, Australia, France, Sweden, Hong Kong and Canada!"
"Now, thanks to John Hale who designed this web site for us, I hope that the word will spread even further."