29th Jul 2020

The evolution of the Shipston Forum

The Shipston Forum was first published 20 years ago and has evolved from its early roots into the publication we know and love today. Current circumstances mean that this August edition is quite different from previous years, which were full of reports about another fantastic fortnight of Proms, fun-packed school fetes and sports days, and the adventurous activities that the Scouts have been enjoying at camp. In the absence of summer events, I thought now might be a great opportunity to have a flick through the archive…

Editors

There have been several editors of the Shipston Forum since it first started landing on doormats across the town, who have all left their mark in different ways. This is now my fourth edition and I can confidently say I am still finding my bearings!

Before August 2007, the publication was editorially independent of Shipston Town Council, despite the council providing funding and serving as the publisher. The masthead proudly proclaimed “The editors of the Shipston Forum have been granted editorial independence by the Shipston Town Council and the views expressed may or may not reflect the opinions of the said council” – reading some of the firey editorials that occasionally appeared it is clear that the editors relished this freedom!

I found Bob Tolley’s first couple of editions in 2007 especially poignant. In August, he wrote an introductory column, expressing his view that the Forum should be a true community publication and that in addition to news about the Council, it should “recognise the tremendous work and successes that are achieved by the range of clubs, societies, associations, businesses, groups and individuals.” – perfectly encapsulating what the Forum still is to this day. The following month, in the wake of the epic floods that struck the town, he wrote: “Little did I realise when I agreed to take over as editor of the Forum, that within days I would be writing about one of the worst disasters in Shipston for a generation.”… little did I realise that in 2020, this new editor would also have to grapple with producing a publication in troubling times!

Youngsters taking control

For several years, there was a tradition of handing over control of the Shipston Forum to local young people for special “Youth Forum” editions. For example, 15 years ago, in the August 2005 edition, Alice Hunt and Michaela Moore documented their recent visit to the Stratford Herald. They discussed meeting renowned editor Chris Towner (now retired) and “a guy called Duncan Smith”, an alumnus of Shipston High School who has since established himself as a journalist and producer for the BBC.

I haven’t handed over the reins this month, but if any young people would like to submit a contribution for inclusion in a future edition it would be gratefully received. Although we don’t have any pieces penned by young people this month, we do have a brand new section - ‘The Little Shipstonites’ - kindly prepared for us by Nikki Turner and featuring activities for our youngest readers – I hope you enjoy it.

Whilst life remains far from “normal” it is good to see the town centre busier again, with people eager to shop and socialise while following the latest public health guidance. Fingers crossed that next month we may start to hear more about upcoming events, though I suspect they may be delivered in different ways.

Chris Rowland

Editor

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