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May 20, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 7:49am

Former Sun sub sets up free monthly paper in Derbyshire hometown after taking voluntary redundancy

By James Walker

A former Fleet Street sub-editor has set up a free monthly newspaper in his Derbyshire hometown after leaving the Sun last year.

Lawrence Hatton, 58, worked for the national tabloid for about 30 years before taking voluntary redundancy and retiring last year.

Hatton, who was trained at a journalism college in Darlington, briefly worked at the Mirror before moving to the Sun.

He moved back to Ilkeston, Derbyshire (also known as Ilson) about six months ago and has this month published the first edition of the free monthly Ilkeston Inquirer.

It operates under the company name Eyup Me Duck Newspapers, inspired by the local greeting, and carries a cartoon duck on its masthead.

Hatton told Press Gazette the launch was partly prompted by the fact his local weekly paper the Ilkeston Advertiser, owned by JPI Media, is based in Chesterfield.

He said: “The Advertiser is no longer based in Ilkeston. It’s based in Chesterfield and it’s pretty much full of Chesterfield news.”

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The inaugural May edition of the Inquirer emphasised its localness to readers, writing: “Ilson news is our appeal, we’re not based in Chesterfiel'”.

The paper also bills itself as “a proper paper for Ilson full of real local stories” above its masthead.

Hatton added that his mother, before she died, would complain that she didn’t know who was still alive – which he put down to there being less news on local births, marriages and deaths in the Advertiser.

JPI Media declined to comment for this story.

The first print run of the free Ilkeston Inquirer, which was delivered to front doors by Hatton and volunteers, consisted of 10,000 copies.

“Despite all my experience in journalism, I wouldn’t have even been able to hazard a guess on what 10,000 copies of a publication looked like until they all got dumped in my garage,” Hatton said.

While his garage serves as the newspaper’s “depot”, editorial work is done remotely on laptops with no central office.

The paper is manned by Hatton, his wife Mary and his brother David, who is in charge of the title’s commercial side. Contributors have also given pieces to the Inquirer for free.

Hatton and his brother both chipped in £1,500 to fund the paper’s first edition, a sum he described as “rather meagre” seed money.

But Hatton said last week that advertising in the paper was “doing pretty well”.

Asked if he made his money back on the first issue, he said: “We just about broke even. We didn’t really expect to make much. We expected to make a loss in fact, so we’re quite pleased that we didn’t do that.

“It’s a case hopefully of onwards and upwards.”

The May edition of the Ilkeston Inquirer can be downloaded on the title’s website.

Picture: Ilkeston Inquirer

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