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Comet set to party as it reaches the big 150

The Surrey Comet is preparing to celebrate its 150th anniversary, with a staff reunion, archive of memories and a car giveaway all planned to mark the occassion.

The weekly paid-for tabloid, which covers Kingston and surrounding areas in south west London and Surrey, is hoping to get as many of its current and former staff together as possible for a grand reunion later this year – a task which could prove enormous as at one time, before the demise of hot metal, it employed 300 people.

It is also appealing for former staff and readers to send in memories and photographs of the paper for a special anniversary supplement next month, which will also be uploaded onto the newspaper’s website and handed over to a local museum service to provide a permanent archive.

And the paper has teamed up with Wimbledon Theatre and a local garage to give readers the chance to win a brand new Seat Ibiza, and is also setting up a vote line so readers can choose which local cause will become the paper’s anniversary charity.

Comet editor Sean Duggan said: “The Surrey Comet has played an important part in local life for a century and a half.

“In an era of ever-increasing change, this unbroken tradition of service to the community is worth celebrating and we want all our readers and staff, past and present, to get involved.

“Earlier this year the paper was relaunched. Pagination was increased, new sections added, and the publication date brought forward from Friday to Wednesday.

“So 2004 is a double milestone for us, where we are celebrating the past and looking forward to the paper’s future.”

The Surrey Comet began life on August 5, 1854, and since then more than 13,000 issues have rolled off the press.

It was founded by local printer Thomas Philpott after God appeared to him and ordered him to use his talents in the service of the Lord. Baptised, confirmed and married on the same day he set up the Comet “to expose the bad and promote the good”.

It is believed to be the only paper in Britain ever set up by divine command and its founder took the task so seriously, running the paper almost single-handed and campaigning to improve the conditions of the poor, that he worked himself into an early grave.

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