Thank you messages as Comet editor says farewell

Editor of the Comet newspaper Darren Isted will be leaving the editorship after 12 years

Editor of the Comet newspaper Darren Isted will be leaving the editorship after 12 years - Credit: Archant

After more than 25 years at the Comet, editor Darren Isted will be saying farewell tomorrow (Friday).

Darren joined the newspaper in April 1989, with stints on both the news and sport desks before taking over as editor in September 2002.

Under his leadership the Comet has remained the widest read newspaper across Stevenage and North Hertfordshire and has become the first choice across Comet country for advertisers seeking to promote their services to our 110,000 readers each week.

Darren has also helped foster a growing online audience, which continues to go from strength to strength.

During his tenure the newspaper has won numerous awards – the latest being the EDF East of England Free Weekly Newspaper of the Year, which we received in February.

Ahead of his departure to start up his own business, the Comet has been inundated with farewell messages.

Jonathan Cropley, publishing director of the Comet’s parent company Archant, said: “Archant and our teams in North Herts are incredibly grateful to Darren for his passion, commitment and sheer hard work over the last 25 years. He will be sorely missed and we wish him well for the future. Although he will be an extremely hard act to follow, we expect to be able to announce his successor as editor for the Comet very soon.”

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• Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins said: “Always a good friend to Hitchin, Darren has had a long and remarkable tenure at the Comet with the perfect mix of concerned citizen and crusading campaigner, presenting each issue with clarity and compassion. Best wishes Darren in whatever you do next – pity you couldn’t see Churchgate sorted in all those years but maybe you will get to write the book.”

• Letchworth GC town centre manager Lee Boswell said: “Darren introduced himself very early in my tenure and I knew immediately that he was a good man. Destined for greatness. A leader among men. A visionary. Where he led, others followed and so it came to be.

“In all seriousness, he’s a cracking bloke, a true gent and a man of his word. We will all miss him and we all wish him well in his new venture. Good luck Darren!”

• Tracey Parry, Stevenage town centre manager, said: “I have known Darren for many years and he has been extremely supportive of the Stevenage Town Centre Management Company during his time at the Comet. His passion for Stevenage, as well as his enthusiasm and experience within the newspaper industry, will be sorely missed, but I wish him much luck and every success for the future.”

• North East Hertfordshire MP Oliver Heald said: “Darren has always been very approachable to elected representatives. He wants to report local concerns and issues and has been totally committed to local community activities and promoting our area through the Comet. He has had great success with the community and business awards. Whether sitting on a sofa with me in Letchworth town square discussing local issues with residents, having a coffee in Royston, watching the football at Stevenage or the rugby with Letchworth or campaigning hard against over development or airport over expansion, Darren has worked closely with me and ensured our area’s views have been well supported in the paper and Comet online. He has given a voice to good causes and community events. He is also a nice bloke and I wish him well for the future.”

• Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland said: “Darren will be missed as he is very well-known in the local community and has made the Comet a community-based newspaper. I have worked with him on a range of campaigns and developed a variety of front page stories and exclusives for the Comet, because Darren could be trusted to focus on what was right for the community.

“On a personal level, I always valued his commitment to Stevenage, local charities we supported together and his passion for Stevenage FC. I will be working with him in his future role and look forward to continuing to develop the massive talent we have here in Stevenage.”

• Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor said: “It has been a great pleasure working with Darren over the years as he has developed the Comet into a true community-based newspaper. He has played a very full and active part in the community life of our town, always engaging with our partnership work in the So Stevenage partnership and supporting Stevenage Community Trust as well as attending so many of our community events.

“As a journalist he has always struck a great balance between fairness and appropriate challenge and I have appreciated his professionalism and conscientiousness. We will miss Darren at the Comet but hope that his new venture will keep him in touch with our Stevenage community and I wish him every success in the future.”

• John Lewis, chief executive of the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, said: “Darren ensures the paper takes a fair and balanced approach, and considers a whole range of viewpoints. It is really good to have a local paper that still offers such strong coverage of all the issues and events in Letchworth Garden City and the region as a whole.”

• Kerry Cunnane, Hertfordshire fundraising manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We have been lucky enough to work with Darren over the last few years and he has always gone over and above what we ask of him. He has always been very supportive of Macmillan and our cause and the help and support that Darren and the Comet have given to us has just been incredible. As a charity having a very local presence is very important to us and Darren has always made this possible. Darren has always been a pleasure to work with, he is very committed, has a dry sense of humour and great taste in Christmas films!”

• Karen Rabjohn, head of fundraising Garden House Hospice, said: “Darren has been a great friend to the Garden House Hospice in Letchworth for many years and a fantastic champion of many of the hospices general initiatives, as well as our fundraising campaigns, such as our annual Starlight Walk. We know that he will approach his new venture with the same professionalism and drive that he has used with his support of the hospice – thus ensuring it will be a great success! We will miss him and wish him well for the future.”