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Gazette editor to retire after 44 years with the paper

Western Gazette Martin Heal is to retire after 44 years with the newspaper.

He has spent the last 11 as editor and steps down after undertaking virtually every editorial role at the title during his career, after joining the Gazette straight from school.

During his time as editor the paper has won a string of awards and Martin has been recognised by many community organisations for his support.

The Gazette was awarded the BT South West Weekly Newspaper of the Year title in 2000 for the second time in three years.

Judges were particularly impressed with the newspaper’s refusal to be “handcuffed” by weekly deadlines. The title was runner-up in the national final that year.

  • Martin (left) receives the 2000 award for his paper
  • Martin, as editor of the Yeovil-based Gazette, last year took on responsibility for both the Yeovil and Taunton editorial teams in a reshuffle of the company’s south west weeklies.

    Editor-in-chief Andy Cooper said: “Martin has been a wonderful servant to the Western Gazette for many, many years and he will be sorely missed by the staff and the readers.

    “He has been a fantastic editor and a very strong advocate for the newspaper in the community.

    “His loyalty to the Gazette has been amazing – he very much deserves a long and enjoyable retirement.”

    Tim Dixon, deputy editor of the Express and Echo at Exeter, has been appointed editor, Dorset and Somerset.

    He will start with Northcliffe’s South West Weeklies division on October 2, allowing a period of handover to take place with Martin, who will leave on October 20.

    At the Express & Echo, Tim led the team responsible for its redesign, which was unveiled in April.

    Andy said: “I am delighted that we have recruited a journalist of Tim’s calibre to take over. I know he is an avid reader of the Western Gazette already and he is looking forward to the challenge of developing the title further, both in print and online.”

    The Western Gazette Company publishes the Western Gazette, a paid-for weekly newspaper, and the Yeovil Times, a free weekly. Tim will also be responsible for Taunton Newspapers, which publishes the Taunton Times and Wellington Weekly News.