THE editor of the Kidderminster Shuttle is leaving this month after 21 years at the helm.

Clive Joyce, 62, has decided to retire early on April 25 after a media career spanning 44 years.

He has presided over a period of major change in recent years and has relished the challenge of steering a newspaper founded in Victorian times into the digital era.

He says: “We have embraced many changes but digital technology, in particular, has revolutionised the way we work and brought new ways of communicating with people.

“The development of our website and social media alongside our print edition means we are now reaching more people than ever before in The Shuttle’s 144-year history and I see that as a great achievement.

“The newspaper has always had a broad reach and responsive readership. But our online coverage has considerably enhanced our interactivity with the community and taken it to a new level."

“And the electronic version of the paper on our website is so popuar that it regularly attracts more than 300,000 page views a month.”

Having been a weekly journalist throughout his career, he has welcomed the ability to provide an up-to-the-minute news service via the web. “Before the arrival of the internet, we only published once edition a week," he says. “But now it’s fantastic to be able to publish instantly to the web every day, although we would never undermine the value of the printed Shuttle.”

The Shuttle website has matured rapidly in the last five years and in February achieved a record 117,000 monthly users – 82 per cent up on the same period last year.

Mr Joyce says: “Being a local newspaper editor is a privileged position that puts you at the centre of everything that goes on in a community and it has been rewarding to steer a paper that has such a special place in the hearts of Wyre Forest people.

“A local newspaper needs the backing of its community and I am grateful to so many people who have supported the paper and me personally in my time as editor.”

Mr Joyce started his career when he joined his home town paper, The Hereford Times, after leaving school in 1969 and went on to become deputy editor.

Along the way he spent 10 years as a sports writer and covered Hereford United in their glory days in the Football League when they rose to the old Second Division.

He says: “It seems incredible now, given the clubs’ respective places in football’s pecking order, but I covered United when they played Chelsea in league games in 1976-77!

“That season we were also playing Southampton, Hull, Wolves, Fulham, Nottingham Forest, and Blackburn. How fortunes change in football?”

He added: “Since coming to Kidderminster I have also had some great times with Harriers, and going to Wembley twice and winning promotion to the Football League have provided some memorable moments for The Shuttle to be involved with.”

Paul Walker, Kidderminster's deputy editor from 1989-1999, becomes group editor of The Shuttle and its sister papers at Stourbridge, Halesowen, Dudley, Redditch, Bromsgrove and Droitwich.