SINCE his arrival as editor in 1993, Clive Joyce has tried to put The Shuttle at the centre of Wyre Forest life and says: “Local newspapers have tremendous potential to play a wider role than just providing information and I have always looked to harness the power of The Shuttle to benefit the community.”

During his tenure, the newspaper has helped raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for local causes and highlights include the £140,000 Scouts centre at Rhydd Covert and fund-raising with the Hospitals League of Friends to create the Millbrook Suite.

There are scores of other activities that have made a difference to people’s lives and it is our readers who have made that possible by always rising to the challenge."

“We have also forged fruitful partnerships with a long list of organisations on a wide range of activities to get things done.”

Other projects have included a senses garden as a memorial to those who died in the Hagley School minibus crash and an annual Christmas gift appeal for local children.

There have been smaller but no less important gestures and last month readers were moved by the theft of a carpenter’s tools after he had been diagnosed with cancer, and within hours of the paper publishing his story, offers of replacements flooded in.

The Shuttle has twice won its company’s Free Newspaper of the Year title, and was named in Newsquest Media Group’s top three free newspapers every year between 2001 and 2007.

Mr Joyce said: “We have shown over the years that we can work to high standards and maintain them. Whether papers are free or paid-for, there should be no difference in the approach.

“Newsquest is the biggest publisher of free newspapers in England and Wales and the awards are a testimony to the hard work of staff in all departments.”

Mr Joyce believes local newspapers have a duty to give a voice to the community and this was never better demonstrated than in the run-up up to the 2001 General Election.

He says: “At the height of the battle to prevent the downgrading of Kidderminster Hospital which led to the sensational victory of Dr Richard Taylor over MP David Lock, we provided a vital platform for Wyre Forest people to get their views heard.

“Our mailbag was overflowing every week and we were able to publish opinions from every conceivable viewpoint. It was a brilliant demonstration of how a local newspaper should operate. We were proud of our coverage and the response was amazing.”

A Shuttle petition to save district health services also collected 66,000 names in 31 days and on election night The Shuttle produced an 8-page special within hours of the result.

He said: “The result came at 2.30am and we gathered interviews and photographs from the count at The Glades and worked until 5am to produce the pages.

“We collected 10,000 copies from our Worcester press at 7am and they were being handed out free on Wyre Forest streets by 9am. It was a remarkable exercise for a free weekly paper, but we were the first printed media to publish the result and readers snapped up all copies by midday.”