A CHURCH magazine that was circulated in 13 villages in four benefices has closed after almost 50 years, after no one came forward to succeed its retiring editor.
The monthly magazine The Roundabout was launched in the 1970s by the priests of the benefices around Hitcham, near Ipswich, in Suffolk. Its pages were open to other denominations, and it was funded by a £3.50 yearly subscription.
Now, its editor, David Turner, a retired teacher, has turned 81, and, after his search for a successor was unfruitful, he has decided to put away his blue pencil. Also, the small team of women who assembled one day a month to staple its pages together were finding the work too taxing.
“I am sure the magazine could have gone on, but we were not replacing ourselves,” Mr Turner said. “Some of the others are older than me. The staplers were getting too old to keep banging the staples in: it was too much for them. I appealed several times for more staplers, but no one came forward.
“I think it is to do with the community of today. You can get the younger generation to do one-off things — give up an afternoon or something — but to make them commit to a service that has to be done every month upsets their other arrangements.
“Social media and the internet have had an effect, too. People don’t read things any more.”
When he started, the magazine was written on a stencil and printed on a machine turned by hand. But, despite the arrival of a computer and printer in Mr Turner’s spare bedroom, where it was compiled, the size was always governed by the fact that the maximum number of pages that it was possible to push a staple through was 24.
“It was never specifically C of E, although the church ran it, and it had a strong Christian flavour,” Mr Turner said. “It was also Chapel, and the Roman Catholic priest from Stowmarket contributed a piece. The vicars wrote what they liked.
“They did the heavy stuff; my responsibility was collecting the news — the fêtes and flower shows and what else was going on — and plenty of advertising from local businesses. In a good year, we made a profit of around £5000, which we shared out among the contributing parishes.” Circulation hovered just below 1000.
“It will be a loss to the area. I am sad that it has gone, but, on the other hand, there is a certain sigh of relief that I don’t have to do it any more.”
The Rector of Rattlesden with Thorpe Morieux, Brettenham, and Hitcham, the Revd Christopher Robinson, said: “It was an unusual periodical, because it covered lots of villages which had no particular connection in themselves except that they were next to each other. It has benefited my church — St Mary’s, at Hitcham — and others.
“Taking on the editorship is a huge thing: much bigger than your own village magazine; so finding someone willing to give a weekend of their lives every month is a huge ask with people’s busy lifestyles today.
“David has been a tremendous guardian of the community: a Reader for many years, churchwarden, treasurer. He is, in many ways, the figurehead of Hitcham, especially since they lost their resident vicar.”