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Editor-in-chief Roger Watkins to retire from SE weeklies

Roger Watkins, editor-in-chief of Northcliffe’s weeklies in Kent and Sussex, is to retire.

He will step down from his post in the spring, after 45 years in newspapers.

Prior to joining Courier Newspapers in Tunbridge Wells, which publishes the Kent and Sussex Courier, Sevenoaks Chronicle and East Grinstead Courier, he had been managing editor of the four-edition Brentwood Gazette.

Roger, who will be 63 in March, said: “It is now 45 years since my first job on a newspaper and I had originally intended to retire at 60.

“But the enormous satisfaction I have had working for Northcliffe as the editor of the Brentwood Gazette Series in Essex and, subsequently, overseeing the restructure of the Kent and Sussex Courier, the Sevenoaks Chronicle and the East Grinstead Courier persuaded me to stay on.

“Now, though, is a good time to retire as we move even further forward by upgrading our Tera system, and planning future developments involving our free newspapers, our leisure offering and our website.

“I have greatly enjoyed working with the enthusiastic and accomplished teams in both Essex and Kent. We have made significant progress which I know will be continued in the future.

“It is particularly satisfying to leave the Kent and Sussex Courier as the best performing large weekly in the whole of Northcliffe based on the July-December ABC figures.”

Before joining Northcliffe Roger worked for the Hereford Times, the Hereford Evening News and the Western Daily Press, and was for 26 years a staff member of the Daily Express in the paper’s Fleet Street, Manchester and Glasgow offices where he served as chief sub editor, night editor and assistant editor.

Roger covered the Aberfan disaster as a reporter for the WDP in 1966 and when he was at the Brentwood Gazette in 2004 he won the Campaign of the Year category in the Essex Journalist of the Year awards.

He has also been a lecturer in journalism and has written about classical music for national newspapers such as The Times and the Express as well as specialist magazines.

Roger and his wife Carol have three daughters, two of whom are journalists and the other a detective in the City of London police, plus four grandchildren.