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Staff past and present toast weekly’s 200th birthday

Staff past and present attended a weekly newspaper’s 200th birthday party which also marked the launch of a new fund-raising drive.

The Wiltshire Gazette & Herald held the celebration to mark its bicentenary at Devizes Town Hall, where it launched a campaign to raise £100,000 for Julia’s House children’s hospice.

As previously reported on HTFP, the Gazette & Herald reproduced its first edition from 1816 in Thursday’s issue to mark the anniversary.

The original paper, which was named Simpson’s Salisbury Gazette, after founder George Simpson, was on display to see at the party.

Staff current and past join guests in toasting the newspaper at the party

Staff current and past join guests in toasting the newspaper at the party

A collection of nostalgic photographs taken by the late Gazette photographer Colin Kearley, compiled by current Gazette snappers Trevor Porter and Diane Vose, were also exhibited.

Regional editor Gary Lawrence, who has worked for the Gazette for more than 20 years, addressed the party.

He said: “In 1816 George III was still on the throne, Napoleon and Wellington were both still alive, Coleridge, Keats and Byron were still writing poetry and books, and the railways were still 34 years away from coming to Wiltshire.

“Wiltshire constabulary was at least 23 years away from being born and Devizes’ famous Caen Hill Locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal were only six years old when the first edition of the Gazette was printed.

“Here we are two centuries later and if it was not for George none of us would be standing here.”

Former community correspondents and journalists, such as Terry Gaylard, Lewis Cowen and Nigel Kerton, were also present.

The newspaper’s campaign aims to fund eight carers who will work with families of children with life limiting illnesses across Wiltshire.

Gary added: “We have now set ourselves the slightly daunting target of raising £100,000 but I am sure with our readers behind us, our advertisers and our fantastic sales and marketing teams, we are going to be going all guns blazing this year for Julia’s House.”

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  • January 14, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    How great to be able to put the original issue on display. I wonder how many back copies of JP papers have survived in office moves made by the company. I have heard that all the hard copies of the Doncaster Free Press (a mere 90 years old) and the Derbyshire Times (181 years old) have been skipped !!

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