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Sixty-year journalism career ends with farewell column

A 60-year journalistic voyage has come to an end in Merseyside after a popular writer penned his last column.

Alan Whalley has been entertaining readers of the St Helens Star with his Whalley’s World musings since the paper’s inception in 1973.

The 75-year-old’s take on life in the St Helens area has gathered a loyal following over the years – one which went global among ex-pats with the birth of the St Helens Star website.

Alan retired as editorial director of the Star and its sister paper in Southport in the early 90s but continued contributing his Whalley’s World.

In his final column, he wrote: “Things have certainly changed apace over the past 60 years of my reporting life.

“I’ve enjoyed a rich mixture of journalistic work. I’ve reported from as far apart as Hong Kong and deep-freeze Narvik, in Norway, about troop morale and the lives of St Helens-born servicemen out there.

“I plodded through the sweltering jungles in the Far East; and took up snow-skiing and living in an icy shelter within the Arctic Circle.

“But, much closer to home, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reporting about our own local characters – the geniuses, the talented and the brave, the historical and the oddballs.

“I’ve made countless friends over the decades and this old page quickly built up a world-wide fan club.”

Alan started his journalism career as a 15-year-old cub reporter in 1948 after his mother had barged into the editor’s office at the long-gone St Helens Newspaper and Advertiser and demanded he gave her son a job.

Alan received a new bike as a celebratory gift which he then used to cycle around his patch, getting to know the local key contacts such as shopkeepers and undertakers.

In his late teens Alan joined the Warrington Guardian as sports and news reporter before moving on to Wigan’s daily title the Post and Chronicle where he made features editor.

From there he became assistant editor at the St Helens Reporter, a sub-editor at the Daily Telegraph’s Manchester office and eventually editorial director at the new St Helens Star and sister title the Southport Star.

Alan added: “I am planning to write a book, in my retirement years, taking in my journalistic adventures.

“It will feature many unforgettable characters who have blessed my working life.

“The world-champion boozer, the athlete who could stand-jump on to the back of a horse, the great canal swimmers of St Helens, the amateur and well-scorched fire eater, the publican who yanked out his customers’ bad teeth with rusty pliers and the man who volunteered to have his ear nailed to a pub door.

“These and countless others will leap from the book to be dedicated to all my Whalley’s World followers”