1 Jul 2012

Randwick Runner: World's longest running weekly village newsheet?

Today there was a celebration of the Runner in Randwick...The Randwick Runner has been going for 50 years - a huge achievement - a great way for the village to communicate. Rumour has it that it maybe the longest running weekly village newsheet? Is this true?

It was a great afternoon with loads of cake, tea, bubbly and chat....the usual strange games that Randwick seems to excel at...a short film coming soon to Stroud Community TV! Mike Cant wrote a great piece in the latest Anniversary edition that I've copied below for those who don't know the background.

The Runner was launched by the late Rev Nial Morrison and in his words was intended to “simply to provide news of what’s going on in Randwick”. His introduction in the first issue also explained that “how often we publish will depend on how much news we get and we make no promise that there will be a copy each week”. 

Well we’re now on Issue 2595 and the Runner has been produced every week since launch (apart from a few breaks due to Xmas festivities). During this time the Runner has built strong links both with its readers and with village organisations which ensures a regular flow of news and letters to keep everyone informed of what’s going on. By doing so it has helped create the vibrant community that we are fortunate to live in. (click read more to see rest)

Sheila Morrison, Nial’s widow remembers the early Runners which were produced on a handheld copying machine which was extremely messy “I was forever following him around cleaning ink off doors and sinks”. Apparently he never got bored of doing the Runner even though he kept it going for nearly 30 years “but he had a great team of helpers from the very beginning: Margaret Fletcher, Margaret Smith, Peter Jones and his wife-to-be and Eric Mills. Elizabeth Akhurst typed it up for many years and kept it going while we were in Australia for six months”. She also edited it from 1984 – 1988.

In all Nial Morrison managed an amazing 1513 issues of the Runner before his sad and untimely death in 1991 and there followed a very bleak time when the village mourned and the future of the Runner again came into question.

But Mark Newman, then a student, took up the position as editor. Renowned for his “newsy” style, the Runner headlines became big, bold and urgent and there was an air of “hold the front page” as Mark always sought a scoop, often delaying publication to the very last minute to get it. He was rewarded for his efforts in 1994 with a national award for “Village Magazine of the Year” from the Countryman Magazine.

After Mark left to forge ahead in his very successful publishing career, Dan Giles gamely took up the challenge, having just completed his “A” level in Media Studies. He carried the Runner forward with great gusto. Perhaps it was headlines like his “panther-like beast stalking about the Standish Woods” or his account of one Tom Marrow being chased out of Standish Woods by a deer “I’ve never seen anything like it. It was after my blood” that ensured he left his editorial stamp on the Runner.
After Dan, Menna Williams took over as editor for a year and brought her own friendly and gentle approach to the role. How she found the time, with four children, two under school age, is a mystery.
For a while Michelle Newbold then took over the reins and ably produced a very professional looking Runner before moving on to greater things.

After Michelle we had perhaps our most stylish period of the Runner with Tracey Waite concentrating on the words and graphic designer John Trickett making a superb job of the layout. This was a very successful time for the Runner and saw it through the 2000th issue in November 2000. The next to take on the reins was Sheila Bliss, who despite a busy work, and family life managed to produce a superb weekly issue of the Runner without fail for many years. Well done Sheila.

Which brings us up to the present day. Currently there are four editors (Mick Cant, Brian Stanley, Del Houlihan and Carole and Tyrone Mein), who each produce their issue every four weeks according to a rota developed at the start of each year. It seems to work well as each editor has a distinctive style and tend to focus on different aspects of village life. It also ensures that producing the Runner does not become a chore and we all look forward to the four-weekly challenge of developing our Runner. We aim to keep it that way and ensure that the Runner continues to remain at the centre of village life. Please keep your contributions coming in, the health of the Runner depends on a regular flow of news and reports from our readers. MC

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