John Cole's career at the Academy spanned precisely the Second World War. He arrived at the school on 4th September 1939, the day after the war with Germany began, and he received his School Certificate results six years later, on the very day in August 1945, when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
Cole joined the staff of The Belfast Telegraph as a reporter. Thereafter, he rose rapidly through the hierarchy to become Political Correspondent. In 1957, he moved to what was then The Manchester Guardian as Labour Correspondent and after a period as News Editor he moved again to the Observer where he eventually became Deputy Editor.
In 1981, John Cole became the Political Editor of the BBC and a national figure. Despite his prominence, he never lost his Belfast accent. He contributed to various books on British and Northern Irish politics, the best known of which on Mrs Thatcher's years as Prime Minister.