Three of the Reporter Series’s longest serving employees bid a fond farewell to colleagues and readers this week.
Group deputy editor Kate Wobschall, Batley News and Spenborough Guardian news editor Margaret Heward and receptionist Janet Hirst, who have clocked up more than 60 years between them, are moving on to pastures new.
Kate began as a junior reporter at the Batley News in 1989 and after completing her training, spent a short time working abroad. She returned in 1992 to join the Spenborough Guardian news team, and two years later became a sub-editor at the Reporter Series, before being promoted to chief sub-editor and then deputy editor.
Margaret began her journalistic career in 1977, also at the Batley News. After a career break in the 1980s to have her two children, she returned in 1992 to join the Dewsbury Reporter, becoming news editor of the Spenborough Guardian following its acquisition by the Reporter Series in 1994. For the last 12 months she has also been the news editor for the Batley News.
Janet has been with the Reporter Series since 2002, working at both the Dewsbury and Batley offices.
Kate said: “I’m going to miss the buzz of life in the newsroom – I’ve made some brilliant friends working here so it’s not as though I’ll lose touch with what’s going on at the Reporter.
“One of the highlights of my time here was winning the Headline Writer of the Year title at the Yorkshire Press Awards in 2008 then helping the Reporter take the Newspaper of the Year trophy the following year.
“I’m also proud to say I raised several hundred pounds for our Reporter Series Fund with a sponsored long distance horse ride.
“But the time is now right for a new challenge – or two new challenges, to be precise!”
Kate will teach French and Spanish to nursery and key stage one children as a licensee for La Jolie Ronde, and is also teaming up with a former colleague who runs her own PR company in Calderdale.
Margaret, who won Yorkshire Feature Writer of the Year in 2003, is taking early retirement.
She said: “Things have changed so much since that first day at the Batley News when, as a very nervous rookie reporter I climbed the steps to be greeted by a fog of cigarette smoke and the clatter of ancient typewriters.
“I was the only female reporter in what was considered to be a male dominated profession in those days.
“There were no computers, mobile phones or even fax machines; everything came by ‘snail mail’.
“But while technology has moved on a million miles, the principles of reporting remain the same, and I am constantly humbled at the way readers welcome us into their homes and lives and allow us to share their stories at what can sometimes be the most traumatic of times.
“Looking back over the years, it’s incredible how we are still reporting on the same issues affecting our readers. In fact my first front page ‘splash’ was a story about the threat to Batley Hospital. The arguments against its closure – especially of its A&E department – in favour of a bigger Staincliffe Hospital, were exactly the same as are being voiced by our readers now about the downgrading of Dewsbury and District Hospital.
“It’s going to be a real wrench leaving after almost 30 years, but it’s time to have a few adventures while I’m still young enough to enjoy them.
“I’ve met and worked with some wonderful people throughout my career, and I thank them all for their support and friendship. It’s been a privilege to have played some small part in documenting what is tomorrow’s history.”
Janet said she would also miss colleagues and customers.
“I’ve enjoyed meeting so many people from all walks of life,” she said.
“Every day is so different. In fact in my first week I remember a man walked into the office, having just got off the train from London, and plonked a rhino’s horn on the counter!
“Apparently he’d just upped sticks from living in London, packed a suitcase and this horn and got on the train to try and find relatives in Dewsbury.
“I’ve made so many friends over the years and have got a great deal of satisfaction from helping people. You really feel as though you are a part of the community, but it is now time to move on.” Janet and her husband, Nigel, are in the latter stages of the process to become foster carers.
“I always said if I won the lottery I’d buy a big house and foster. Well I might not have won the lottery, but fostering has been an ambition of ours for a long time, and we are ready to take that step.”
Reporter Series editor Hannah Ridgeway said: “We are a real family at the Reporter Series and it is going to be very hard to say goodbye to such lovely people, and such a lot of experience and knowledge.
“But we know they are all going on to do things which they have been looking forward to doing, so we wish them all the very best for the future.
“I would like to thank all the kind readers, customers and advertisers who have sent some lovely messages of congratulations and farewell.”