Comet 50: 'I am proud to say I was there at the birth'

Ian Rogerson and his wife Jacqui celebrating the Comet's 50th anniversary from their home in Spain

Ian Rogerson and his wife Jacqui celebrating the Comet's 50th anniversary from their home in Spain - Credit: Supplied

Former Comet editor Ian Rogerson has reflected on his experience of the early days working for the newspaper back in 1971.

Congratulations to staff and readers on the Golden Anniversary of the Comet. Is it really 50 years since the paper was launched...and I was lucky enough to have been part of that historic occasion, later becoming its editor!

Having joined parent company Home Counties Newspapers as a trainee reporter in 1965, I was working as a sub-editor on the Hertfordshire Pictorial in 1971 when it was decided to go free!

It was an extremely unusual and brave idea. There were very few 'freesheets' around at the time, containing mainly advertising with a little news, but this was to be different.

However, it wasn’t without its problems. The idea was only a week old when it encountered a major hurdle.

Because the paper was the dawning of a new age, a bright star rising from the ashes of a fading one, it was decided to call it The Sun – and issue one hit the streets.

But that didn’t go down well with its national namesake, which threatened legal action. Although there was a strong case for fighting it, no one was going to delay this new venture so instead of a long-drawn out dispute, the name was quickly changed – and the Comet as we know it now was born and emerged the following week!

Most Read

It was an immediate success, well received by readers and advertisers alike.

I was editor for five years in the ‘80s until I moved to the South Coast in 1989 and went on to work on a number of weekly, regional evening and daily newspapers in the South and East of England.

I was fortunate to work with some lovely and extremely talented staff on the Comet, including long-time news editor John Adams and photographer Alan Millard, both of whom sadly passed away in recent years.

I retired to Spain in 2010 and, even though my wife and I are enjoying our new life in the (mainly) sun on the Costa Blanca, I never miss reading the Comet online every week and keeping up with the news in the area where our children still live.

I wish the paper and its current staff my best wishes on this special occasion and look forward to its continued success.

I am privileged to have been part of such a wonderful success story.