Senior reporter at The Gazette in Colchester, Mike Sams, is taking early retirement after 40 years working at the paper.
Sams, 58, joined The Gazette straight from school under then editor Jimmy Fairclough, and has since worked for 10 more editors.
During his career, he has reported on eight murder investigations – and was once shot at.
Sams said: ‘Being in the right place at the right time has a lot to do with the stories reporters get, and during my time I seem to have been associated with a great deal of murders.
‘There was one boy whose murder was considered too gory for the national mornings to use. He was tortured and kept in a cupboard in a village near where I was based. We reported it in full, with interviews with his parents, but it always amazed me why the national newspapers never used it.
‘Then I was shot at when a boy went on the rampage. He took off through the port of Harwich armed with shotguns and a pistol, shooting in my direction as he went. He was tracked down to a pub which he set light to, and then he was shot by a policeman, which I witnessed.”
In 1980, Sams won Essex County Newspapers reporter of the year, but despite the lure of the nationals, he chose to remain in Essex.
‘You do feel tempted to move, but I was born and brought up in the area. My thinking – and I’m quite honest about this – is you are better off being a big fish in a small pond rather than the other way around.
‘I might have got more money and more fame but where I was quite good enough. People come up to me in the street because they recognise me from the paper.”
Sams plans to work part time for the Citizens Advice Bureau.