GLASSES were raised today not only to celebrate 200 years of the Gazette but also to mark the launch of our ambitious £100,000 appeal for Julia’s House children's hospice.

Staff old and new, as well as loyal supporters of the paper, gathered this afternoon in Devizes Town Hall to look back at how the paper 24-year-old George Simpson first created in 1816 has changed.

Speaking in front of guests, regional editor Gary Lawrence who has worked for the Gazette for more than 20 years, said: “In 1816 George III was still on the throne, Napoleon and Wellington were both still alive, Coleridge, Keats and Shelley were still writing poetry and books, and the railways were still 34 years away from coming to Wiltshire.

“Wiltshire constabulary was at least 23 years away from being born and Caen Hill Locks were only six years old when the first edition of the Gazette was printed.

“Here we are two centuries later and if it was not for George none of us would be standing here.”

The original paper, which was named Simpson's Salisbury Gazette, was on display to see, as were a collection of nostalgic photographs taken by the late Gazette photographer Colin Kearley compiled by our current snappers Trevor Porter and Diane Vose.

Former community correspondents and journalists, such as Terry Gaylard, Lewis Cowen and Nigel Kerton also joined those who worked diligently behind the scenes as they shared memories of their roles in producing the paper, at the heart of the Wiltshire community, for readers every week.

Mr Kerton spoke about how the industry has changed with technology. When he first started working for the Gazette in Marlborough he would send his articles to the Evening Advertiser based in Swindon via bus.

Copies of articles were put in parcels and a reporter would stand in Victoria Road, Swindon and stop the bus and collect the parcels.

“As often as not the reporters forgot, so my copy went right round the block down to Salisbury,” Mr Kerton joked.

Most importantly, the other focus of today’s celebrations was our appeal for Julia’s House to help some of the county’s most neediest children and their families.

With your help we will raise £100,000 for Julia’s House which is opening a new children’s hospice in Devizes in 2017. The money you raise will pay for carers who offer families a life-line and a way to cope when they are at their lowest ebb.

Gary added: “We have now set ourselves the slightly daunting target of raising £100,000 but I am sure with our readers behind us, our advertisers and our fantastic sales and marketing teams, we are going to be going all guns blazing this year for Julia’s House.”

Ian Wadley, Wiltshire fundraising manager for Julia’s House, said: “The Gazette and Herald 200 appeal, marking a great anniversary for the newspaper, will make a tremendous difference to Julia’s House.

"But more importantly will make a tremendous difference to the local people here in your community."

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

How to help

There are many ways you will be able to help throughout the year by joining in fundraising, organising your own event or giving to our appeal when you do something amazing such as running a marathon, sky-diving or abseiling.
You can make a difference straight away by filling in the form below or sending a text message donation or going on-line.

To make a donation of £10, send 200APPEAL to 70500. To make an online donation or for further information on the Gazette & Herald’s 200 Appeal for Julia’s House, please visit the hospice website's Gazette appeal page by clicking here.

Alternatively, find out in your Gazette out every Thursday. This week's edition also includes a souvenir booklet inside.