In a personal reflection, Hereford Times editor John Wilson picks out highlights of the newspaper's work in what has been another challenging year for so many of us

The Hereford Times has a small team of journalists who work very hard, often in difficult circumstances, and as their editor I have never been prouder of them.

While we are not perfect, we always aim to do our best, to improve, and to give Herefordshire and the Borders the first-rate professional news service it deserves.

We tend not to dwell on the past in our newsroom. Once the newspaper has published we immediately start work on to the next, while our mission to provide constantly updated quality online news is ceaseless.

But as 2021 draws to a close I want to look back on the year and take stock of what we have achieved, almost of it with the support of our magnificent readers.

Another year of coronavirus

Like much of 2020, Covid-19 dominated the news agenda. Throughout the pandemic we have done all we can to promote the messages that keep us all safe.

We have also, with the help of experts in our LOCALiQ marketing arm, worked to support the local businesses so badly affected by the restrictions imposed on normal life.

But Hereford Times also helped in several more practical ways over the 12 months.

Laptops for kids appeal

In January we launched our laptops appeal, in partnership with Laptops 2 Kids Herefordshire, to ensure children forced by Covid restrictions into home schooling had their own computer to work with. Within a month 200 were in the hands of local familiesdeluge front page

Flood victims appeal

Also in January, we were able to announce that a Hereford Times appeal, in partnership with Herefordshire Community Foundation, to help victims of the devastating 2019 floods had raised an astonishing £80,000.

The money had been used to provide immediate relief to individuals and community groups whose homes and possessions had been ruined.

Fix Ava's Heart appeal

In April we were shocked to learn that a little Hereford girl with a hole in her heart was being told to put her childhood on hold and wait more than a year for NHS surgery to fix it.

We launched a £25,000 appeal for Ava Bailey to have the operation done privately. But within a few weeks the NHS “miraculously” found a slot for Ava’s surgery, which proved to be successful.

The money contributed to the appeal was returned to donors.

Longtime cattle farmer with his award winning Taditional Hereford Steer, Jock..


Food and farming awards

Our food and farming awards were set up in recognition that the two industries are among the most important in the area and the people who work in them merit our support.

Our ceremony in June celebrated excellence in several categories, but the Outstanding Achievement Award went to 88-year-old David Powell, who also won the Cattle Farmer Award.

Owners of The White Lion pub in Leominster, Laz Pal and his wife, Nina..


Best Pub award

The hospitality industry has been particularly hard-hit by coronavirus restrictions. So, in September, to raise morale in the sector, we launched our search for the Best Pub in Herefordshire and the Borders.

Decided by a readers’ vote, it was eventually won by the White Lion in Leominster, run so admirably by Laz Pal Laszlo and his wife Nina.

OnePlanet pull-out

Environment concerns are understandably of increasing concern to many people. That is why we launched our OnePlanet pull-out in October.

It aims to raise awareness of local efforts being made to combat climate change, and to campaign to stop the pollution ruining our magnificent river Wye.

Dawn Daw of the Leominster Meeting Centre received a hat-rick of awards. Well done Dawn!..


Health and social care awards

Few of us need to be reminded of the dedication shown by workers in the health and care sectors over the last two years. Nevertheless, the Hereford Times Health and Social Care Awards 2021 aimed to celebrate their efforts by showcasing the most brilliant individuals and organisations.

The top award of the ceremony went to Dawn Daw, of the Leominster Meeting Centre, who accepted the Outstanding Contribution to Health and Social Care Award on behalf of herself and her late husband, Jeremy Daw, who had been tragically killed in a road accident involving his ambulance earlier in the year.

The Hereford Times publisher has awarded a £294 grant under the papers Readers Choice Initiative to Phoenix Bereavement Support which wil help towards their My Coping Kit scheme. Pictured here with a My Coping Kit is Grief and


Readers' Choice charity giving

Every year the Hereford Times awards grants to local charities, and I am immensely proud of the contributions we have made to a great variety of them.

This year was the first in which our readers have been actively involved in nominating and voting for worthy causes. Sums under our Readers' Choice scheme were awarded to Phoenix Bereavement Service – which helps young people and their families cope with grief – and the Living Room in Commercial Road – a café, community larder and safe space for those with little social support.

Mel Groves with food bank donation bags outside the Living Room in Hereford..


Christmas Appeal 2021

Our annual Christmas appeal, in partnership with the Herefordshire Community Foundation and the Living Room, aimed to ensure no one in Hereford went without food and a little treat.

Our amazing readers responded with typical generosity, and in less than a month we hit our target of raising £2,000 to send 70 festive parcels to families in need.

But we need your support too...

Only a local newspaper and website like the Hereford Times can deliver such tangible good for communities. But the rise of California-based digital giants such as Google and Facebook has weakened our traditional advertising-based business model.

We now need new ways to earn sufficient money to support professional journalism. One way is by asking people to take out a digital subscription to our website. It currently costs just £2 for two months. You will be able to read an unlimited number of stories (the free version of the website restricts people to 40 a month), have access to lots of extra features, and will see fewer advertisements.

Register now and join the Hereford Times in making our communities stronger:

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last year, including our readers, advertisers and contributors. Rest assured that we will continue to be with you throughout 2020. Happy new year!