P1070619Hello, I’ve been your news editor for the past few months, and various other things before that. I’d like to tell you a bit about my experience of volunteering with the Hastings Independent.

A month before I walked into the Union Bar one rainy evening in January 2014, I’d left News UK. Disillusioned and downhearted, I was still washing the Murdoch from my hands when I saw a Facebook post that caught my eye.

So there I was, new to Hastings and generally in a quandary, listening to a bunch of fast-talking, excited, angry Hastonians/Hastingers/Hæstingas who claimed to be starting their own newspaper. Starting their own newspaper? In print? At a time when even the biggest were failing? I left that evening thinking: there’s no way. Little did I know I’d devote around 400 hours of the next two years to helping them.

Now, nearly 50 issues later, I’m leaving. I’m about to start a great new job, in large part thanks to the experience I’ve gained here, variously as writer, news editor, content co-ordinator, cat herder and conflict resolver. Because of the nature of the job, it wouldn’t be appropriate to do both – so it’s time for me to go. Oh it’s nothing, I’ve just got something in my eye.

If I’m allowed a parting message, it’s this: please don’t underestimate what an achievement this little paper is. I’ve worked for the Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Times and The Telegraph, as well as several less glamorous publications. In my opinion, not one of them is as exciting, as revolutionary, as full of potential as the Hastings Independent. Community journalism is exploding as people increasingly take news into their own hands. It’s a fascinating time in media history.

But to survive and thrive, the Hastings Independent needs you. To help raise money to pay for production, to help cover all the stories that need covering, to help edit one another’s work, to help spot legal hazards, and to help attract, train and retain new volunteers. So if you read this paper and you have any spare time at all, please pop down to Hastings Works of a Monday evening at 6.30pm, meet the team and offer up your skills.

Thank you Hastings, for the past two years. It’s been many things – fun, challenging, inspiring – but for me, most of all, it’s been redemptive.