Dear Reader,

I am a reporter at The Basingstoke Gazette and Andover Advertiser. I grew up in the town and am passionate about finding the stories that matter to us all.

As a child, I loved reading and writing stories. It wasn’t until I was at secondary school – the now closed Fort Hill – that I first considered journalism, inspired by a teacher called Mr Newman. He tasked us with writing a newspaper article on a topic we felt strongly about, and I chose fox hunting. I loved researching and writing the piece and it sparked my interest in a writing career.

I was delighted when I was accepted onto the multi-media journalism course at Bournemouth University and I learned real reporting skills from talented lecturers who all had successful careers themselves.

My work experience placements included The Basingstoke Gazette, Channel 4 Dispatches, The Telegraph Magazine and The Daily Express, and I had ambitious dreams for my future.

However, in my last week at university I suffered a health scare which resulted in me spending a week in hospital. As my friends were applying for and starting new jobs, I was back at home recovering and feeling left behind.

The trauma of the whole experience left me feeling lost and afraid. But my parents supported me through this challenging time and built my confidence back up.

Eventually, I found the courage to accept a job offer at the Epping Forest Guardian in Essex and I moved to East London to begin my career in local newspapers. I had a brilliant time in London with my university friends. But when a position came up at the Basingstoke Gazette I wanted to move back home and be near my family.

I’ve had many memorable experiences during my career, from the highs of attending red carpet premieres (thanks to the former leisure editor), doing theatre reviews, and a trip in a hot air balloon.

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To the lows of being chased by a drunk man, falling in a bush during a bike-tour of the town with the mayor, and getting urinated on by a dog during an interview, much to the amusement of my colleagues.

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However, it is the people I meet who I remember the most and who make the job so rewarding, including my amazing colleagues over the years who have become friends, and those whose stories I have told. Some have changed me as a person or changed the way I have felt about something. Others have educated me and opened my eyes to matters I knew nothing about.

That is the joy of working in local news – the stories are so varied and cover such a broad range of topics. One day I could be covering a trial in court, the next trying out a fish foot massage; something which really did happen and led to me talking on the radio about my experience!

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I feel a huge responsibility when telling someone’s story to get it right and allow their voice to be heard. Everyone’s story matters and is important. From the grieving mum who lost her son in a car crash caused by an elderly man driving in the wrong direction, to the women passionately campaigning to save breastfeeding support. Telling their stories and giving them a voice is the reason I do the job.

In 2016 I became pregnant with my son and decided to make a move to freelance journalism. I finally realised my dream of writing for the national papers, using my position as a journalist to make a difference and write about important topics affecting women, including endometriosis, infertility, sexism and motherhood.

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However, I missed local news. I began contributing stories to the Gazette as a freelance journalist, picking up on things which I heard about from living in the town, and which I felt should be in the public domain.

Then, last year I accepted a part-time position back at the Basingstoke Gazette. When I first joined the Gazette it was a paper to be proud of, led by the talented editor Mark Jones. When he left, it went through a challenging time, like many local newspapers. Now, with its first female editor Katie French, it has regained its place at the heart of the community and is a local paper we can all be proud of.

I have always believed that knowledge is power. As a child I was encouraged to read and constantly learn. As an adult, when faced with a challenge the first thing I do is inform myself and find out as much as possible.

I see my role as a journalist doing this for others - passing on knowledge and using my position to find out information which may otherwise be kept in the dark. I follow my instinct and if something feels wrong, I’ll keep asking questions until I get answers, sometimes on behalf of others and sometimes to satisfy my own curiosity.

I promise to keep asking questions and finding the stories that matter to those of us living in Basingstoke. However, we need your support to continue doing this. We need you to back us as your local paper. And we need you to see us, the reporters, as real people.

Basingstoke is my hometown. It is where I grew up and where my family live. It’s important to me that we have a thriving local paper that can be trusted. I hope that giving you an insight into who I am as a person and showing you that I really care, that I am a part of our community, will encourage you to support us.

Trusted local news has never been more important but it needs the help of the public to survive. Since 1878, The Gazette has been serving the community with public interest journalism.

Support The Gazette today by taking out a digital subscription or arranging a home delivery subscription. Call 0800 953 0227 (UK only) to find out more or email Thank you for your support.