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New editor appointed to manage community news website

A new editor has been appointed to manage a community news website set up by a philanthropic business leader on its patch.

Belinda Hargreaves has been appointed as the new editor of hyperlocal online news portal The Spirit of Alfreton, established by the Christopher Nieper Foundation three years ago.

The website, which was set up as a response to the COVID-19 crisis, was designed to help people in the Derbyshire town stay in touch and support each other during difficult times.

Belinda, pictured, replaces former Nottingham Post reporter Laura Hammond, who has left to become a senior journalist at BBC East Midlands.

Pic of Belinda Hargreaves
Belinda spent ten years as a reporter on the Leek Post and Times from 2007-2017 before leaving in 2017 to go freelance and set up her own business, Hargreaves Communications.

This included news editing a group of sister weeklies published by Times, Echo and Life Publications including the Leek & Moorlands Echo, the Cheadle & Tean Times and the Uttoxeter Echo, and editing the Leek Life, Stone & Eccleshall Life, and Newcastle Life bi-monthly magazines.

Commenting on her new position, mum-of-two Belinda said: “I am very excited to have been given this wonderful opportunity to help promote and celebrate all things Alfreton and surrounding areas.

“Local community news has always been my passion throughout my journalistic career.

“I am aiming to continue the fabulous work of former editor Laura Hammond, and I also have a few new ideas to hopefully help further strengthen and evolve the site, as well as encourage even more Alfreton folk to get involved in using the site to tell their community all about their news, activities and events – after all, the Mission of The Spirit is to be ‘for the community by the community.’”

The Nieper family, one of Alfreton’s biggest employers, continue to cover the costs of running the site which now attracts more than 25,000 visits every month.

Christopher Nieper, CEO of international fashion brand David Nieper Ltd and founder of the Christopher Nieper Foundation said: “Belinda joins the Spirit at a very exciting time and we are delighted to have her on board.

“Over the past few years, we have succeeded in creating a new style of local journalism and have put Alfreton at the forefront of hyperlocal news reporting. People crave reliable sources of local knowledge and most people have pride in their community.

“Journalism can play a key role in unifying and empowering communities by sharing information and creating opportunity. It builds trust and community cohesion.

“Yet, much local news is difficult to read with click bait and cluttered with ads. Circulations have been decimated in recent years, we hope that this new approach can play a meaningful role in the future for local journalism.”