Gallery: Farewell to Ipswich Star editor Nigel Pickover

It has been my joy and privilege to edit what is, without doubt, one of the best regional newspapers in this great country of ours.

The Star has been my life and passion for 18 incredible years and it has been a wrench leaving for challenges new on The Star’s sister titles in Norfolk.

But I leave with so many happy memories and I am grateful that, together with readers and advertisers, we have been able to win so many battles for the community.

It has been my honour to represent the ordinary folk in their fights in their moments of triumph and, sometimes in moments of deep sadness.

It has been my honour to challenge the powerful and to represent the weak who sometimes don’t get a voice.

I will continue to do this until my very last day in journalism.

But first I must remember some of my great friends and companions on what, in today’s journalism, has been a long and magical journey.

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Many come to mind but I mention four who are now late, but will always be great.

Who can ever forget the larger than life man that was Brian Cowie, who was joint managing director at Ipswich’s much-missed brewery, Tolly Cobbold. Brian and I shared a great passion for Tolly ales and the Tolly Cobbold story.

Another great fan of Ipswich, who I remember fondly, was Jamie Cann, the town’s MP. We shared a passion and a vision for Ipswich and I think of him to this day.

Another ambassador for Suffolk’s proud county town was a great guiding hand for me.

James Hehir, Jimbo to me, was chief executive of the borough council. The emergence of a new Ipswich including the waterfront is a tribute to Jim’s work and I salute him today as I did on the day when he died so suddenly.

Finally, of those who are no longer with us, I was privileged to become a friend of the late Sir Bobby Robson.

I was honoured to be entrusted with celebrations of anniversaries of both Ipswich Town’s FA Cup victory in 1978 and the UEFA Cup victory three years later.

After the last reunion before his death, an ailing Sir Bobby turned to me at the end of the evening and said “Nigel, son, you’ve given me one of the great nights of my life”. I was moved to tears.

The English football legend’s truly unique set of telephone digits will always be in my mobile phone.

Some of the great campaigns we have run made real differences to people’s lives.

I have been so proud to be at the helm of the Terri Calvesbert trust fund in association with those great Ipswich solicitors Kerseys.

Since the dreadful fire which caused Terri so many injuries back in 1998 the trust fund has raised half a million pounds for her future needs.

The wonderful Paul Calvesbert and his family need so much but ask for so little.

One day Terri’s needs will grow and I will remain on the trust fund to ensure that those requirements are met.

Looking to the community of readers and advertisers, I could have done little without the help of people who rallied to the various causes I have started. Salute the great Graeme Kalbraier, managing director of Call Connection, who was always there to lend a hand when funds were needed or an impetus desired.

Similarly, Mick Parker, from Parker Ltd, events and audio visual specialists, has always been there with advice and guidance.

But so many individuals have helped the Star on its journey – Dave Muller for SNC, Mike Saks and Richard Lister from UCS, Liz Harsant former leader of IBC, and current CEO Russell Williams, all have been there in good times and in bad.

But I must remain dutifully to say thank you to the great staff of The Star who have fought and fought again to win our campaigns.

These have been many and varied – just a few spring to mind.

In the mid-1990s I launched Ambulance Watch – a forensic look into failing 999 service, the East Anglian Ambulance Trust.

We forced a public inquiry and changes came in and today the service of the now East of England Ambulance Service is so much better.

But we remain watchful.

Our campaign called Hospital Watch has shone a light into the world of the NHS and a great recent victory was the establishment of elective emergency heart services at Ipswich Hospital.

What a great victory for reader power that was.

I remember the hard work and dedication which helped the family of Vicky Hall, from Trimley St Mary, who was murdered and left in a stream near Stowmarket.

The Star fought and fought again to get funds for a lasting memorial and the Victoria Hall Pavilion is a football home to hundreds of young people to this day.

Meanwhile, who could forget our campaign in support of Ipswich Town when the Tractor Boys were last promoted on a glorious day at Wembley in 2000?

The Star had 17 days of front pages on the Super Blues in the build-up to the big day and ended by chartering a train to take 500 Town fans to Wembley

The promotion express was a joy.

I must pay tribute to my great friend and working colleague Terry Hunt, who now retakes the helm at The Star whilst continuing as editor of the East Anglian Daily Times.

All I can say is The Star is in safe hands under Terry’s stewardship.

I wish all my colleagues the very best for the future and know they will succeed and will be bolstered by the campaigning zeal of The Star.

Thanks so much Ipswich, Felixstowe and Suffolk – it has been a blast.

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