Northcliffe bosses praised the 55-year-old’s contribution to the company after her departure was announced.
Now Anita is looking forward to the next stage in her career, setting up her own consultancy business, Syvret Media.
She said: “I’ve had a fantastic time at the Gloucestershire Echo. It’s now time to do something else before I get the bus pass.
“When Northcliffe offered me the editorship at Cheltenham, I was a risk.
“No one had let a woman loose on a regional daily before and at the time, I think they were a bit worried it would go pear-shaped.
“I am hugely grateful for the faith they entrusted in me and that they’ve let me have such a good time for 18 years.
“Being a journalist is a privilege. Thanks to this job, I’ve met the Queen three times and mixed with VIPs.
“But I’ve also met some extraordinary ‘ordinary’ people – the plucky toddlers, have-a-go heroes and grieving relatives who have become a newspaper cliché, but who achieve incredible things and are the stuff of local news.
“I’m going to miss the cut and thrust. But I have no regrets.”
When Anita moved to Cheltenham in 1990, she was the first woman in Britain to edit a regional daily since 1939.
Since then the Echo has won a string of awards and established itself as the voice of Gloucestershire.
Anita became a journalist in 1977 as a trainee on the Southern Evening Echo, in Southampton.
She was made news editor, then assistant editor of the Leicester Mercury in 1987 before taking up the editor’s role in Cheltenham. She will leave the Echo on May 16.