I’m not going to lie, I’ve been hiding here in plain sight, quietly editing these newspapers.

I took over as the new Audience and Content Editor in mid-April, editing the Gazette & Herald’s three editions, the Wiltshire Times, and their websites.

Forgive me - starting any new job is challenging - throw beginning remotely during a pandemic into the mix and it’s been a lot to get my head around.

But I thought it was about time I popped my head above the parapet and said hello.

I take over the Audience and Content Editor role from Alison Phillips, who leaves big shoes to fill, having adeptly steered the papers for 11 years.

Many people looking for her have probably been disappointed to find me instead - I will try to make it up to you.

Regional Group Editor Pete Gavan remains in place providing guidance and support as my boss.

The reporting team is a small, but mighty one, punching above its weight with their sheer dedication. The journalism industry has faced many challenges and we work under difficult conditions - but our reporters deserve praise for the great job they do regardless.

Please do keep sending us your news tips, photos and comments - we do really appreciate them, even if we can’t publish everything that comes in to us.

Our local papers as a whole are apolitical - we want to be able to inform and represent all of our community. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for expressing opinions.

I like to see a healthy letters page and online comments section. When opinions are expressed in a respectful manner, rather than simply attacking opponents, that is.

I have been writing the weekly editorial columns on the letters page in print, but I’d prefer to own my opinions and put my name - and face - to them.

So I have decided to start a weekly opinion column here to express my views on the news of the week. 

It’s a luxury to have somewhere I can really say what I think. You’re welcome to disagree - make a good case as to why and I’m likely to publish your comments.

I can’t say my column will always be serious - sometimes it’s nice to enjoy some light-hearted writing too.

Obviously a newspaper’s primary purpose is to inform readers of important news, but we have always been about so much more than that.

Whether in print or online, newspapers are important community-builders. 

We advocate for the underdog, champion charities and community groups, and provide a fair dose of light entertainment - and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You can contact me on elise.britten@newsquest.co.uk