In a farewell piece, Gareth, who has won the Weekly Reporter of the Year award at the Regional Press Awards for the past four years, highlighted some of the campaigning work he has undertaken with the newspaper.
During his time there, the Advertiser’s Lillian’s Law campaign successfully brought about a change to the drug-driving laws, following the death of schoolgirl Lillian Groves at the hands of a driver who took cannabis before getting behind the wheel.
The paper was also successful in helping to catch an arsonist who burnt down a furniture store in Croydon during the 2011 riots.
Gareth also recently secured a notable victory for press freedom after the police agreed to revoke a harassment order issued against him for doorstepping a convicted fraudster.
Wrote Gareth: “All this was far from what I expected when I took a job at the Croydon Advertiser in August 2008. I had just finished training as a journalist and there were no jobs available so I decided to apply to work in the first place that sounded like there might be news.
“I remember being apprehensive when I stepped off the train at East Croydon for the first time. I’d heard the jokes and read the stories. The best part of a decade later I’m proud to call Croydon my home.
“The town has changed a lot during that time; it’s no longer a byword for teenage knife crime or – whisper it – failed developments. Progress is in the air, though much work remains to be done to make sure this new-found potential doesn’t go to waste and, just as importantly, is shared by all.”
“Sadly, it will no longer be my job to help make sure that happens. It’s been a privilege writing about Croydon for the Advertiser; I’ve loved pretty much every minute.
“It’s rarely felt like work, as if being paid to talk to people and write down what they say was somehow cheating. I feared someone would realise as much and make me do a “real” job. Fortunately no one ever did.
“Croydon is more than just one of the best news patches in the country; it’s one of the best places too. I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do without it.”