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Reporter chalks up 40 years on weekly title

A journalist who has worked at the same newspaper for 40 years has recalled his most memorable moments from the past four decades.

Mike Last, left, has served under five editors, written countless stories, and worked with more than 100 reporters at the Lynn News.

His top stories from that time, many of which made national headlines, have included unsolved murders and a great Royal romance.

Writing in the News this week, Mike said the last 40 years had been a remarkable and memorable experience.

He started on the paper, then known as the Lynn News and Advertiser, on 13 September 1971 and recalls the reporters’ rooms as a cramped and smoky haven with old fashioned type writers.

Said Mike: “On my first day, as a time-honoured initiation ritual, I remember being taken to the Wenns pub in Saturday Market Place at lunchtime by the reporters and having three pints of beer, but I don’t recall much about the rest of the day as I was not used to drink at that time.”

The paper was then part of the East Midlands Allied Press but was sold to Johnston Press in 1996.

Added Mike, who won EMAP’s reporter of the year in 1975: “In my 40 years, I have covered a multitude of stories. But the year that sticks in my memory as one of the most eventful for this area was 1974, and particularly the second half of that year.

“On 9 August, there was a mid-air collision between an RAF Phantom jet and a crop-sprayer over Fordham Fen, near Hilgay, when most of the Lynn News reporting team was on a lunchtime break at the former Woolpack pub on the corner of Tuesday Market Place.

“We took some convincing that it was not a leg-pull by the hapless soul left manning the office to get us back, but when the news sunk in all the reporters available descended on the crash scene to seek eye-witness accounts and we were able to carry an in-depth report in the next issue.

“Then, on August 27, the bound and headless body of a woman, aged between 23 and 35, was found by a farmworker in a lovers’ lane at Cockley Cley, near Swaffham, and a major murder hunt was launched.

“To this day, and despite a recent exhumation of the body by a Norfolk police cold case unit seeking a full DNA profile, the woman’s identity remains a mystery and the murderer has never been found.”

Mike said the biggest headline news he had ever been involved in, from start to finish, was the royal romance between Prince Charles and Sandringham-born Lady Diana Spencer.

He said: “I remember spending many hours staking out locations around the royal estate in the hope of catching a brief glimpse of the couple together and eventually being rewarded with one of the earliest sightings of Diana in her Ford Escort, with its leaping frog emblem on the bonnet, in 1979.”



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  • October 12, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Well done Mike. Mind you the initiation at a three pint pub lunch is a little lightweight. Joining my first newspaper that very same year I recall being told I had to drink five pints and jump across a local pond with the 19 stone deputy editor on my back. Stupid boy that i was I reckoned I’d got it sussed so dismissed the deputy editor nonsense but still got paralytic drinking five pints. My how they laughed….or so I’m told.

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  • October 12, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    That’s nothing. For my first day they broke my ankle with a spade.


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  • October 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Well done Mike. You don’t get that for murder.

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