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Neil Hodgkinson to leave Reach

Neil Hodgkinson, audience and content director (digital sport), has decided to leave Reach to embark on the next chapter of a journalism career in its 45th year.

Neil Hodgkinson to leave Reach
Neil Hodgkinson: “It has been an absolute pleasure working with Reach and there are some brilliant people doing some brilliant things. I wish everyone I have worked with the very best for the future.”

Neil has held many roles at Reach, says the publisher, leading their teams in the North East as editor of the Hull Daily Mail before being appointed editor-in-chief of the Humber and Lincoln regions, later becoming marketplace publisher for the NE & Yorkshire and leading the launch of YorkshireLive in 2020.

Reach says he undertook his current role in early 2022, spearheading their sport vertical. He’s established a strong focus on sport in Reach’s US launches and has also represented Reach as a Mentor on the Mission Gender Equity cross-company programme.

He was voted in the top 10 of regional editors in the last 20 years by Hold the Front Page and collected many national and regional awards including multiple UK Newspaper of the Year titles and the 2005 Race in the Media Award sponsored by the Ethnic Media Group.

Head of national sport Jake Murtagh and deputy managing editor (Sport) Mat Kendrick will report to David Higgerson while work is being done to build the best reporting structure for sport.

COO Alan Edmunds said: “Neil is a superb editor and leader. Working with him for the past seven years has been fabulous.”

David Higgerson, chief digital publisher, says: “I have known Neil throughout my career as a journalist, both as a colleague and a competitor, and he has always set the standard for what journalism, especially local journalism, should aspire to.

“Countless careers have been built upon Neil’s advice, support and guidance including many people working within Reach today. His leadership of digital sport has been brilliant to see, and I’m sure all of us wish him well after such a long and distinguished career.”

Neil said: “Hopefully I have made a positive impact on people's careers both within Reach and elsewhere during an amazing time for the industry that saw hot metal and linotype printing end, full page makeup come in and digital journalism move alongside and then ahead of print.

“For a council-house kid from Fleetwood it has been a great ride and one that many people - including my parents - never thought I'd make. It was the 'posh job' and even my dad made me get a physics O-level in case it didn’t work out and I could join him as an electrician. My mum was a cleaner and never fully understood what I did. Even on her deathbed, she asked me to tell the nurse 'what's that funny job you do, again?' However, I must be the only editor who can fit wall lights!

"I have had the privilege to cover some of the biggest stories in recent world history from the Falklands War, the fall of Ceausescu, the death of Diana and 9/11. I have also been involved in many major local stories, none more than the 7/7 bombers who travelled from Leeds to strike terror into London and Derrick Bird, the Cumbrian taxi driver who killed 12 people in a shooting spree. They were tragedies that affected communities greatly and carried a burden of responsibility to ensure we didn't let them down.

“On a more positive note we raised millions for charities, raised money for schools and helped improve lives on inner-city estates. I have met the Queen (and our King), interviewed Margaret Thatcher 1-1 sat on bar stools in the Marine Hall in Fleetwood in 1983, spoken to politicians either side of the divide in Israel, visited South Africa and met people risking their lives to end apartheid, attended the Beijing Olympics and taken part in Exercise Lionheart, which was the biggest movement of troops across Europe since WW2.

“Now it is time for me to again see what is out there for the next adventure. It has been an absolute pleasure working with Reach and there are some brilliant people doing some brilliant things. I wish everyone I have worked with the very best for the future.”

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