A weekly editor has stepped down after 25 years at his paper to launch his own business.
Darren Isted first joined North Herts weekly The Comet in 1989 and had stints on both the news and sport desks before taking over as editor in September 2002.
During his tenure, the newspaper won numerous awards, culminating in being named EDF Energy East of England Free Weekly Newspaper of the Year in February.
Now Darren has said his farewells to colleagues at the Archant-owned title after decided to set up his own marketing business.
Publishing director Jonathan Cropley said: “Archant and our teams in North Herts are incredibly grateful to Darren for his passion, commitment and sheer hard work over the last 25 years.
He will be sorely missed and we wish him well for the future. Although he will be an extremely hard act to follow, we expect to be able to announce his successor as editor for the Comet very soon.”
Under Darren The Comet became the widest read newspaper across Stevenage and North Hertfordshire and currently claims 110,000 readers each week.
Tributes have also been pouring in for Darren including from local MPs and civic leaders:
North East Hertfordshire MP Oliver Heald said: “Darren has always been very approachable to elected representatives. He wants to report local concerns and issues and has been totally committed to local community activities and promoting our area through the Comet
“Darren has worked closely with me and ensured our area’s views have been well supported in the paper and Comet online. He has given a voice to good causes and community events. He is also a nice bloke and I wish him well for the future.”
Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland added: “Darren will be missed as he is very well-known in the local community and has made the Comet a community-based newspaper.
“On a personal level, I always valued his commitment to Stevenage, local charities we supported together and his passion for Stevenage FC. I will be working with him in his future role and look forward to continuing to develop the massive talent we have here in Stevenage.”
Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor said: “It has been a great pleasure working with Darren over the years as he has developed the Comet into a true community-based newspaper.
“As a journalist he has always struck a great balance between fairness and appropriate challenge and I have appreciated his professionalism and conscientiousness. We will miss Darren at the Comet but hope that his new venture will keep him in touch with our Stevenage community and I wish him every success in the future.”