Sgt Barry ReedA new officer now patrolling the streets as part of Marlborough’s neighbourhood policing team is no stranger to the town. In fact his new posting is something of a return home for 42-year-old Sergeant Barry Reed (pictured).
For he was brought up in Marlborough, went to St John’s School and after joining the police force at 21 returned to serve at Marlborough police station for almost three years in the 1990s.
“It feels a bit surreal to be back in familiar territory and it’s a bit like coming home too,” he told Marlborough News Online."
“So I expect to see some of the people I went to school with and had some dealings with as a police officer."
“The only difference now, 15 years later, is that I will probably be dealing with some of their children now that I am back.”
However, he points out that local contacts are an important aspect of policing, and declared: “Having that local knowledge of an area and the people you are dealing with is a huge advantage."
“I am very keen to be working alongside the community and empowering them to have the trust and confidence in us – they’re issues that do exist today -- to do our job while making them part of that process."
“Hopefully, we can help to make Marlborough a great place. It is a safe place already but we can always do better working with the community.”
Born in Somerset, the son of a herdsman, Sergeant Reed’s family moved to Wootton Rivers when he was five and he went to school in Pewsey.
Then, aged 12, his family moved to Fosbury, near Oxenwood, and he became a pupil at St John’s, where playing cricket with police officers serving in Marlborough and Pewsey inspired him to entertain a life on the beat.
Fellow students ribbed him and friends declared it would never happen, but after initially working on the land like his father, he joined the Wiltshire force at 21, one of the delights being “that every day is different.”
He added: “There are times in my career when I look back and can say I really made a difference in somebody’s life. That’s what we do in the police. And it is massively important to be working in the community in a place like Marlborough.”
That considerable career has included eight years as a dog handler and, more recently, serving in the hectic Swindon town centre.
“I am really excited about my new posting having grown up in Marlborough,” he said. “I believe that the experience and skills I have gained within the Swindon borough neighbourhood policing teams will serve my new community very well.”
Sergeant Reed, who lives near Burbage with his wife, Karen, and their two sons, aged six and eight, has won acclaim in Swindon, where he was awarded a Chief Constable’s commendation for his work in reducing anti-social behaviour in the town centre.
Under recent changes, the Marlborough neighbourhood policing team is part of the Royal Wootton Basset neighbourhood area, which is led by Inspector Mark Thompson.
“Sergeant Reed is a welcome addition to our neighbourhood team in Marlborough,” Inspector Thompson told Marlborough News Online.
“I am convinced he will put his previous policing experience to good use in serving the community. I have worked with him previously and I am looking forward to working with him again.”
Nigel Kerton, who retired todayThe end of an era was marked today (Wednesday) when Nigel Kerton, the Gazette & Herald's Marlborough reporter since articles were bashed out on typewriters, filed his final story.
Nigel - who reckons he's filled 2,000 front pages for the Gazette & Herald, along with 500 each for the Swindon Advertiser and the Western Daily Press - stumbled into journalism aged 17, when he popped into the offices of the Mercury in Weston-super-Mare to scour the jobs pages.
He was asked if he fancied a job on the paper, doing some administrative work and assisting the journalists, and told to go off and write a 500 word article on a subject of his choosing.
“It was easy,” recalls Nigel. “I came from Lyneham, where my mum and dad ran a village shop, and I was new to Weston-super-Mare with its bright lights and a theatre. They liked the story and offered me a five year indentureship.”
Nigel's first day on the Mercury – a Monday in 1964 – started at 8.30am. “At 8.45 I was given a notebook and a pencil and told to go and interview a woman whose husband had died. It was a baptism of fire.”
And while many young journalists dread the prospect of talking to relatives about the loss of a loved one, Nigel reckons it has become his favourite part of the job, and at the start of his second stint with the Gazette 15 years ago – following a ten-year sojourn at the Western Daily Press in Trowbridge – he insisted on the reinstatement of the obituaries column.
“I love listening to people about their lives, and I think I'm particularly good at empathising with people who have lost loved ones in tragic circumstances, because I've been through it: my mother, who suffered from Alzheimer's, drowned herself in the sea at Torquay in 1980.”
The journalists at the Weston Mercury taught young Nigel the craft: putting people at ease during interviews, and letting them tell their stories in their own words.
“They were gentleman reporters with copper plated shorthand,” recalls Nigel. “Journalists who would record every word at a council meeting, when reporters had the time, and newspapers had the space, to do that.”
But four years later a career move summoned Nigel back to Wiltshire: he was offered a job in the Swindon Advertiser's Marlborough office.
“I loved Marlborough,” says Nigel. “I used to cycle down from Lyneham as a kid. The Adver's editor, Fred Hazel, heard I had a girlfriend back at Lyneham, and offered me the job.
“I was one of two reporters working at this 15th century building in Kingsbury Street [the office closed by Gazette & Herald owners Newsquest in October last year]. I thought the Adver was the paper I was working for, but I also had to write for the Gazette.”
The following spring – March 1969 – Nigel and Joy were married at St Peter's Church in Clyffe Pypard. Their first home was a flat above a shop in The Parade – now occupied by More Than Pine – before moving to Poulton Hill, and then to The Mead, “Kennet's biggest cul de sac” and the Kerton family home for 19 years.
Nigel and Joy have two children – Paul and Claire – and four grandchildren, aged between 12 and 23. And between them they've acted as Nigel's unofficial news-gathering team throughout his career.
When Nigel first came to Marlborough, the journalist Bob Wise advised him to “never join anything.” The reporter promptly threw himself into community activities.
He formed the Gardening Club 35 years ago, and joined the carnival committee 25 years ago. He's been the chairman of the New Road Centre, which works with 30 special needs adults every week, for eight years. And ten years ago, he and Joy revived the Jubilee Centre Christmas lunch, which is now held in the Town Hall and caters for 60 elderly residents from the town.
In the millennium year the Rotary Club awarded Nigel the Centenary Community Award for Vocational Services to the Town – "I don't suppose anyone else will get that honour for another 100 years," laughs Nigel – and in 2007 Pewsey Parish Council gave him an award for Outstanding Services to the Community.
Recently, Nigel – who has attended local government meetings for nearly half a century, and describes himself as apolitical – has considered leaving the press bench for a seat in the council chamber, by standing as an independent candidate for Marlborough East in the next Wiltshire Council elections.
“I've been described as a socialist, but I'm only a socialist so far as every journalist is a socialist, by fighting for people's rights and championing causes,” insists Nigel.
“I had a brief courtship with the Conservative Party,” he says, “and was interested in joining the majority group on the council.
“But in the light of my colleague Chris Humphries' experience, where he was not supported by his colleagues [Cllr Humphries was suspended from the Conservative group following a reprimand for mistreating a member of the council's staff], I decided that I didn't want to be part of that group.”
“I'd like to join the town council too,” he adds, “but not until somebody provides me with a whip and a chair. At the moment I feel the body has no useful future. Good ideas are thrown out and bad ideas kept in because of the views of those on the majority group.
“Personally, I don't think party politics has a place in local councils.”
Nigel leaves the Gazette just a week before his 65th birthday. He intends to spend more time with his family, exploring southern England in his campervan, and continuing his work with community organisations in Marlborough.
“I've enjoyed my career in journalism; there's no better job in the world,” he says. “But I suspect I'll be busier than ever before. So I guess it's 'goodbye for now', rather than 'farewell for ever'.