Senior reporter’s column: A fond farewell to readers

Senior reporter Ian O'Pray has left the Mail after seven years.
Senior reporter Ian O'Pray has left the Mail after seven years.

I have commandeered the editor’s column this week because I wanted to take the opportunity to say goodbye to Mail readers.

I left the paper on Friday after seven happy years reporting on the goings-on in this wonderful district.

Not long after I joined the paper we ran a story about plans to get rid of a Postman Pat children’s ride in the St Mary’s Place shopping centre.

In most towns, Pat’s disappearance might have gone unnoticed, but this being Harborough, someone started a petition to save him.

The Mail broke the story, it went national, 500 people eventually signed the petition, and Pat was saved.

Only in Harborough, people told me.

Read the story from our archive here:

Hundreds back campaign to save Postman Pat.

And so it proved, as it was just the first of many weird and wonderful tales to crop up during my time at the Mail; from black beasts roaming the countryside, to supposed UFOs, to the man met by armed police on a visit to a fishmongers after he joked he was going to stab someone in the neck – he meant the lobster he was buying. Only in Harborough.

Read that story here:

The Strange case of the lobster and Facebook.

I have been fortunate to speak to so many inspirational people, from war veterans who show such dignity, to charitable campaigners who think only of others, to ordinary people who have shown extraordinary bravery.

Not all of them are happy stories, but together they make up life in this amazing community and I have felt privileged to share them with you.

It is perhaps fitting that my final weeks at the Mail have been dominated by tales of otters in the River Welland.

Of course the otter now has his own Twitter accounts and T-Shirt range...only in Harborough.

Column by Ian O’Pray.

Follow Ian on Twitter, @IanOPray.