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Sports editor leaves weekly after 33 years of service

Zoe AshtonA sports editor has said farewell to a weekly newspaper after more than three decades in her “dream job”.

Zoe Ashton has left the Rugby Advertiser after 33 years of service, 30 of them running the paper’s sports desk.

In recent times, Zoe has also been responsible for sports content on the Advertiser’s National World sister titles in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

In a farewell piece for the Advertiser, she said she was now set for a “summer of garden leave”.

Zoe, pictured, wrote: “To all of you who have written reports and told me your news, I’m very grateful.

“Thank you for letting me share all your successes and milestones and the not so good bits too.

“I started as a trainee news reporter in the Albert Street office in November 1988. I’d already been writing Sporting Spotlight features on the back of the old midweek paper, after work experience the previous year while I was still at school.

“Sport was what I always wanted to do and I was so lucky to be given my dream job in January 1992. “Since then I’ve met so many wonderful people and the sports people of Rugby have given me so many incredible memories.”

Famous interviewees of Zoe’s have included the 1988 Australian rugby union team, many of England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup-winning squad and New Zealander legend of the sport Jonah Lomu, as well as Olympians Sir Steve Redgrave, Lord Sebastian Coe and Dame Kelly Holmes.

Zoe added: “Of course the job has changed a lot over the years. I started on a typewriter and carbon paper and used to design pages on paper, sizing up photographs fresh from the darkroom, which were then driven to the typesetters for them to make up ready to print.

“I’m finishing on a laptop, writing text straight into a choice of page templates, calling in digital images and sending the completed product to press with a click of a mouse.

“The 19-year-old Zoe could never have imagined the difference – or that she’d one day relish being responsible for the sports pages in Leighton Buzzard, Aylesbury, Bedford, Banbury and Leamington too.

“I also enjoyed doing our looking back column for a long time and appreciate everyone who contributed to that over the years as well.

“I could fill all today’s pages with my memories, there’s so much to say, but I mustn’t miss my final deadline.

“I’m not sure what lies beyond my summer of garden leave, so for now this is it and I’ll just say goodbye and thank you for everything. It’s been an honour and I wouldn’t have swapped my life on the Advertiser for the world.”