Spotting the famous resident cat Larry was certainly a highlight of my trip to Number 10 Downing Street / Reporter Sue Plunkett
And last month I walked through the doors of number 10, Downing Street.
I was nominated to attend a local media champions’ reception by Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham in recognition of 37 years as a newspaper reporter, 23 of them at the Burnley Express. It certainly was a thrill to walk through that famous black door into the imposing hallway and staircase lined with portraits of Prime Ministers.
My first real recollection of understanding the significance of the Downing Street address was during the1979 General Election when Margaret Thatcher was elected as the country’s first woman PM. Even at the age of 13 I had my eye on becoming a journalist so I had a real interest in politics and world affairs.
And while many of my university friends and former colleagues have gone on to forge careers in the national media I was always happy to’ man the home front,’ first at the Accrington Observer, where I worked for 12 years, followed by the Express.
The Downing Street reception, where I got the opportunity to meet journalists from across the UK, was hosted by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer who said: “local journalism helps local areas stay connected, generates local pride and keeps communities engaged in local issues. Local journalists capture the heart of our communities and make sure politicians are doing their jobs better by holding them to account.”
I really hope that what Ms Frazer said is true. And while the newspaper industry has changed drastically over the past few years, I still love my job and it’s not a cliche to say that no two days are the same.
From writing stories about fund raising campaigns for people with life threatening illnesses to articles about businesses and families struggling against the tide as the cost of living crisis bites to covering royal visits and elections, as a local journalist your heart has to be in the job and mine always has been.
We have our critics, but what organisation doesn’t? It’s only when you hear someone else describe your role that you realise that yes, we can make a difference to people’s lives. As our own MP said it’s easy to take local journalism for granted as one of those things that ‘will always be there.’
He said:” In Burnley we're fortunate that we still have the Burnley Express as our local paper - keeping us updated on everything from what's going on at the football club, to the brilliant work of local charities and businesses. And unlike the big national media companies, this is run by a small but dedicated group of people who love everything about Burnley and I want to say a huge thank you to the whole Burnley Express team."
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to number 10 and one of the highlights has to be spotting Larry the resident cat who has appeared on TV as many times as his famous owners.