Horsham royal visit: Duke ‘delighted to play a tiny part’ in the history of the County Times

His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester
His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester

His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester said he was ‘delighted to play a tiny part’ in the history of the County Times when he visited Horsham for a special event commemorating 150 years of this newspaper.

He toured an exhibition about the title’s history at the town’s museum in the Causeway, opposite the original home of the County Times.

His Royal Highness said: “It’s a great pleasure to come and visit this splendid museum.

“We’re so lucky in this country that we have so much history to learn about and to celebrate.

“You have here a splendid local museum who have quite rightly noticed your 150th anniversary and tried to explain to everybody not just what it does today but over a long period of time.”

The Duke said it was ‘easy to take everything for granted’ but insisted the paper plays an important role in holding authorities to account.

He added: “I’m delighted to play a tiny part in your history and wish you every luck and that you continue to keep notes of what is going on.

“Keep the MPs and the local authorities nervous.”

Editor and the Editorial Director of the West Sussex County Times Mr Gary Shipton presented the Duke with a commemorative front page.

“The Duke showed genuine interest in the role of the newspaper and its digital transformation and had clearly done some considerable research of his own.

His knowledge of the County Times and our industry impressed everyone he met. He was also fascinated by the other exhibits in the museum which is a terrific tribute to the magnificent work of Jeremy Knight and his team.

“Well done to Horsham District Council for its continued support of such a quality museum.

“It is particularly pleasing that this coincides with the Horsham District Year of Culture of which we are media partners. I sincerely thank both the museum and the council for hosting this special event.

“For much of its history the paper was owned and run by three generations of women who fearlessly ensured that no item of local news failed to find a place in its columns.

“They increased circulation to unprecedented levels.

“Today, in a digital age, the County Times reaches more people than ever before through its website as well as in printed form.”

Mr Shipton was accompanied by the paper’s former Deputy Editor Tim Hopewell-Ash and Digital Editor Steve Payne who both retired this spring after a combined journalistic service of nearly 90 years.

MP for Horsham Jeremy Quin also attended the ceremony and paid tribute to this newspaper’s ‘fearless reporting’.

He added: “150 years is a tremendous anniversary and it was great to mark it in Horsham Museum of which we’re very proud.

“I wish the County Times well in its next 150 years of fearless reporting.”

HM Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex Susan Pyper presented guests to the Duke, including chairman of Horsham District Council Kate Rowbottom, the council’s chief executive Glen Chipp, MP Jeremy Quin, Horsham heritage and museum manager Jeremy Knight, and Mr Shipton, whose responsibilities extend across some 250 titles in the JPIMedia portfolio.

Mrs Rowbottom said His Royal Highness, who is patron of the British Association of Friends of Museums, was a ‘very charming gentleman’.

She added: “[The visit was] delightful.

“He’s very interested in museums and who could resist ours.”

Mr Hopewell-Ash said: “It was a privilege and a pleasure to meet the Duke of Gloucester who took a keen interest in the history of the paper and its service to the Horsham district community.”

The exhibition, called GOOD NEWS – Celebrating 150 years of County Times,opened earlier this month and runs until tomorrow (Saturday July 27).