A long-standing editor who has led a weekly paper for 24 years has left to begin his retirement.
Gary Matthews has left his role as editor of the Hertfordshire Mercury series after joining in 1988 and spending the rest of his time at the title, apart from a short period in Burton with Staffordshire Newspapers.
Gary’s retirement at the age of 57 coincides with the title, which was part of Iliffe News and Media, moving into the stable of new regional publisher Local World, along with all Northcliffe Media newspapers.
He will be replaced in the role by Julie Palmer, who joined the Mercury in 2010 as its deputy editor, and is thought to be its first female editor.
Gary said: “The Mercury has been a major part of my life for the past 24 years and it’s been great to see its development during that time.
“To end my career as the editor of one of the most respected weekly newspapers in the country is extremely rewarding. I’ve loved it.
“It’s an exciting time for newspapers and their associated websites and I wish Julie and all my colleagues all the best taking the Mercury forward.”
Gary joined Herts and Essex Newspapers in 1988 as group editor in chief (west) when the Mercury was based in Fore Street, and was appointed publishing director in charge of editorial and production in 1997.
After becoming managing director in 2000, he oversaw the Mercury’s move to its current base at the former Addis factory in Ware Road in 2003.
Gary then moved to become managing director of Staffordshire Newspapers, which includes the Burton Mail, in 2006 and returned to Hertford as editor of the Mercury series in October 2008.
New editor Julie has spent her 50th birthday year raising money for several charities including Broxbourne-based Teens Unite and has so far collected £1,200.
She said: “Being appointed as the new editor of the Mercury – and I believe becoming the first woman to edit the paper – has crowned a memorable year for me.
“I always wanted my 50th year to be a celebration and it couldn’t have ended any better. I am delighted to be able to carry on Gary’s good work and to take the paper forward in a fast-moving digital age.
“The way people access their news now may have changed since I became a journalist, but I fully intend to keep the Mercury brand at the hub of the community where it belongs.”
Gary, who used to be a prolific non-league footballer and once played at Wembley in the FA Vase final, plans to spend his retirement seeing more of his family.