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Island editor to retire after 30 years in charge

Lionel Cowin has announced he is to retire as editor of Isle of Man Newspapers after 43 years in the industry.

In the early years of his career, Lionel, (60), started out on the island and then worked for Halifax Courier Holdings before joining the Hertfordshire Mercury Series in the late 1960s.

Lionel, (pictured left), told HoldtheFrontPage: “In the early 70s I was invited back to edit the Isle of Man Courier which had been bought by a business trying to nurture it and keep it out of the clutches of the print group I was then working for.”

The newspaper eventually was bought by Halifax Courier Holdings in 1979 and subsequently by Johnston Press in 1994 – but Lionel remained in charge and also became editor of the group’s other titles, the Isle of Man Examiner and the Manx Independent.

In 1983 he was also appoined a director of the company – a position that he still holds.

Lionel said the Isle of Man Courier struggled during his first years in charge but he found a winning formula in 1981 when it was turned into a free paper.

He said: “It did well and became the cornerstone of the business – and still is today. Now we’ve got two paid-for titles as well as the free, and all do well.

“In the early stages it was very eventful. It was like trying to run the paper with two hands tied behind your back.”

Lionel said that one the most memorable stories he covered during his career was a fire at the island’s Summerland entertainment complex in 1973 which killed more than 50 people.

He said: “We had just gone to press that night. We were based in a satellite town called Ramsey where we had few facilities.

“But we just kept rolling through the night, updating as we went. It seriously tested us.”

Lionel is to remain in charge at Isle of Man Newspapers until a successor is appointed. He is then planning to buy a house in France for his retirement.

He said: “I’m sad in many ways to be leaving but I’m looking forward to something completely different – and putting my feet up!

“I’ll miss the day to day action and the camaraderie. The papers are in safe young hands and I’m certain there is more to come from everyone.”