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Life begins at 40 for Gazette

Staff at the Glenrothes Gazette have toasted the paper as it celebrates its 40th anniversary.

To mark the milestone the Gazette published a special anniversary section which included tributes from former editors and reporters.

It also looked back at the first issue of the paper, which cost threepence, and told the story of a housewife who was fined £3 – with the alternative of 15 days in jail – for stealing sugar, tea, ham, Oxo cubes and a jar of hair cream from a local shop.

During the last four decades and 2,088 editions, the weekly paper has grown in stature from humble beginnings in a tobacconist’s shop and now has a circulation of 6,500.

It was first published in 1962, as it still is, by Kirkcaldy-based Strachan and Livingston, which was then an independent company and is now part of the Johnston Group.

The paper’s first office was a small newsagents’ kiosk and was home to the paper’s four staff – Sandy Clark, the Gazette’s first editor, chief reporter Peter Reekie, reporter Alex Shand, and Betty the typist.

Alex, now editor of the Fraserburgh Herald, said: “If anyone wanted to leave the kiosk, everybody had to get out because there was no room to pass each other.

“It was rented from a nearby newsagents shop and was located next to the bus stop and I quickly lost count of the numberof people who knocked on the window and asked for 20 Capstan, a box of matches and a Daily Express!

“My lasting memory of these early years was the amount of walking I did. There was no company car for reporters in those days.”

Alex also recalls how a weekly feature series he ran while working on the Gazette, called Meeting People, changed his life.

He said: “I met many interesting folk as a result of that series, including a woman called Sheen Meldrum who worked at the Fife Institute of Physical and Recreational Education where she developed classes for disabled and handicapped people.

“I interviewed Sheen about Scottish Country Dancing and it was probably my best ever interview – we have been married for nearly 30 years!”

  • Current staff toast the paper’s success
  • During the last 40 years the Gazette has seen 11 editors take the helm, including Jimmy Ross, the longest-serving editor to date, who held the post for 10 years from 1972.

    He said: “The main thing I remember about my time was the switch from broadsheet to tabloid.

    “That was a fairly big thing at the time and took a lot of work.

    “The extra pages that were produced as a result made it much better value for the readers and the format also gave the paper a more modern look.”

    The title has also seen two Alan Crows take charge. The first was Alan Crow, now news editor of the Scottish Mail on Sunday who edited the paper during the mid-80s, and the second was Allan Crow, now editor of the Fife Free Press.

    Alan said: “During my time at the Gazette we successfully campaigned for and won freedom for Glenrothes man Ernest Barrie who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment for a crime he did not commit.

    “It was a perfect example of a local newspaper backing the underdog and winning the day.”

    Others who have edited the Gazette include Jack Sneddon, who worked at the paper for 18 years including three as editor; Graeme Scott, who now edits the East Fife Mail; Leon Vyrva, now managing director of the Dumfermline Press Group, and the Gazette’s current editor, Iain Muirhead.

    Iain, (35), said: “It’s a real privilege for me to be at the helm of a newspaper with such a proud history of service to the town of Glenrothes and its surrounding communities.”

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