Taking Stock - February 29, 2016

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Not so long ago, I popped into the children’s school to talk to one of the older classes about journalism.

It was lovely to get the invitation and to be able to answer so many questions.

Amid the clamour of ‘Do you know Jamie Vardy?”, “Have you met David Beckham” and “Who is going to play at centre half tomorrow?” came one very special voice.

“Why,” one little lad asked, “do we need newspapers?”

At first I was slightly taken aback.

After all, it’s a bit like explaining your life’s work to someone, have them pull their most puzzled face 
and then ask ‘so what do you do?’

Then I realised, the lad had really answered his own query – it’s all about asking questions you see.

I’ve asked all sorts of the years – challenging politicians, policemen and football managers, and not always coming out the victor.

But, up to that moment, the boot had never been on the other foot.

I’m glad the lad piped up, perhaps one day he’ll make a journalist – bravely asking the big questions while the rest of the world is distracted by videos of kittens and endless inane lists.

After nearly 13 years on the staff this is my last column for The Gazette.

I grew up on the Fylde coast, and am immensely proud to have done so much for what is my home town newspaper.

Sadly it’s not the big questions I’ll be remembered for.

There was a time when I was Blackpool’s version of John Noakes, thrown into all sorts of silly scenarios.

There was the day I agreed to be buried up to my neck in mud (ending up with sunburn and hypothermia), the day the donkey wouldn’t go to the nativity (and I got sent to give it a shove).

Once a news editor insisted we stage a race to rural Fylde in near hurricance conditions, just to see if sat navs or maps were better – both reporters eventually giving up and taking refuge in a country pub.

There’s too much to mention, and it really has been a blast, but that’s it. Thanks for reading.