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Editor bows out after 25 years in hot seat

A weekly editor who retired last week after 25 years at the helm has penned a final column looking back over her career.

As previously reported on HTFP, Judi Kisiel has stepped down as editor of the Weston & Somerset Mercury to be replaced by content editor Simon Angear.

Her 25 years in the hot seat saw her meet the likes of David Jason and Alan Titchmarsh and also force out a local MP and a would-be town mayor.

Judi’s final edition was published last week and contained a first-person piece looking back at her time in charge of the Archant-owned title.

Judi pictured with gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh

Wrote Judi:  “This is the last edition of the Weston & Somerset Mercury that I will edit. After 25 years at the helm I am retiring from the paper.

“There have been many highs and lows for me in the past 25 years, fortunately more of the former.

“We set out to become a campaigning newspaper, fighting small and big battles that really mattered in the town. A high point was in 1992 – our campaign against a Mayor-elect who resigned after we revealed his dubious role in a planning application.

“The Mercury also clashed with Jerry Wiggin, the town’s standing MP, in 1997. In a ‘leader’ column we called for his resignation when he tabled amendments to a Bill in the name of Sebastian Coe MP without asking him. Sir Jerry retired from politics at the next election.

“I have always tried to run a good, professional, independent newspaper and I believe we should put readers at the heart of everything we do, delivering engaging and informative content and trying to make the town a better place in which to live and work.

“One sign of a good newspaper should be its unflinching determination to highlight the bad behaviour of arrogant politicians – in fact there are some in our own town who will probably be celebrating my retirement today.

“Soaring among my career highs are the great group of people in Mercury Towers that I will miss.  I have lost count of the numerous trainees who have passed through the newsdesk and gone on to forge successful careers in journalism in the UK and abroad. Many keep in touch, which is fabulous – and flattering.

“Fortunately, I am leaving the paper in good hands. The person taking over the editor’s reins today, Simon Angear, is a ‘local lad’ who was educated in Weston. Simon is enthusiastic and committed to the area, to highlighting its many qualities and campaigning to making sure YOUR voice is heard.”

Judi first joined the paper in 1987 after training on the Bristol Evening Post and working on papers in Devon and Hampshire, and took over as editor the following year.

In her final column Judi also revealed that her former deputy Jerard Hurst, now the paper’s production editor, was also leaving.

“One person, who I recruited as a trainee 23 years ago, is the longest serving member of my team. Jerard Hurst rose through the reporting ranks, on to the sub editing desk, to be deputy editor for many years before taking on the role of production editor.

“I have always been grateful for his help and judgement, his design skills and friendship. We leave 32 Waterloo Street on the same day!”