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Long-serving editor set to leave on a high

One of the Kent Messenger Group’s longest-serving journalists is to retire next month, after 34 years with the company.

Brian Lewis, currently editor of the Kentish Express and the East Kent Mercury, will step down on November 12 – just three days before his 60th birthday.

It will mark the end of a distinguished career, which began in 1963 when Brian (pictured) joined the East Kent Times – a small independent that has since disappeared – as a trainee reporter.

He had also worked at the North West London Press in Kilburn before joining the family-owned Kent Messenger Group in 1970, and held a variety of posts including group sports editor before being appointed editor of the Kentish Express in 1984.

He has also been responsible for the East Kent Mercury, and three editions of the free Extra series, for the past four years.

He will leave the papers on a high, after helping to increase the circulation of the Express by 76 per cent in the past ten years, and sales of the Mercury are also rising steadily.

Brian said: “We’ve been lucky. The Express has seen a year on year increase for ten consecutive years, which apparently is unheard of.

“Over that time it has grown from 16,000 up to 26,000. There has been a lot of new housing in Ashford, which has been most helpful, but the sales percentage rise has exceeded this.”

And he says that a team of enthusiastic young reporters who concentrate on people rather councils is the secret of the papers’ success.

He said: “We have more pictures in the paper that most of the other titles in the county, and we make sure that we attend every community event that we can.

“We also have a great team of hard new reporters so there is a good balance.”

Now he is looking forward to a happy retirement which will allow him to spend more time with his family and enjoy a more outdoors life, walking, cycling and fishing.

Brian said: “I’ve enjoyed my time here immensely, and could talk for hours about the advantages of working for a family-owned newspaper group rather than a public-owned one.

“The Kent Messenger Group’s focus in on editorial, and if profits slip one year instead of thinking of the shareholders and shedding staff, we reorganise, get our heads down and make a comeback.

“If I had my time over again I wouldn’t work for anyone else.”

Kent Messenger Group editorial director Simon Irwin, said: “We will all miss Brian and he will be an incredibly hard act for his successor to follow.

“By any measure Brian has been a successful editor, but when that measure is circulation, his success has been incredible.”

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