IT is the end of an era for The Bolton News as it says goodbye to editor in chief, Ian Savage.

Ian has been part of the town’s life for more than 30 years, not only reporting on it, but helping to shape it.

“It will be a very emotional day for me on Monday, my last day in the editor’s chair. It will bring to an end a 31-year career with The Bolton News, which is my home town newspaper,” said Ian.

After studying at Farnworth Grammar School and then Bolton South Sixth Form College, in 1984 he successfully applied for a place on the highly competitive and intensive National Council for the Training of Journalists newspaper journalism course at Preston Polytechnic (now UCLAN).

As part of his training he spent three weeks at the Bolton Evening News as part of his work experience, which convinced him that journalism was the job for him.

Following time working as a trainee for weekly newspapers the Blackburn Citizen and the Bury and Radcliffe Times, it was in 1987 that Ian fulfilled his dream and became a senior reporter for the Bolton Evening News.

After a year as a reporter for the Manchester Evening News, Ian returned to Bolton and over the next 21 years, he was promoted to first, deputy news editor, then assistant editor and then deputy editor.

From 2005 to 2008 he returned to the Bury Times, this time as editor. And in 2008 he was appointed editor-in-chief of the Bolton Evening News.

“Being editor of the title I grew up reading as a boy, which has been a huge part of my life for the whole of my life, has been a tremendous privilege,” he said.

Part of the job involved him being group editor of Lancashire titles, editing the Lancashire Telegraph and having overall responsibility for the Westmorland Gazette in Kendal.

It was a particular honour for him to head The Bolton News during 2017 — a very special year.

“To be in charge during the 150th anniversary was amazing. The Bolton News has a proud and rich history and is simply a huge part of the town. Not too many towns have daily newspapers these days and I know that we are still highly regarded and the go-to place to find out what is going in the council, at court and health and education issues.”

Throughout his years at the newspaper, he stuck by his philosophy for he believes a local newspaper should be all about.

“My philosophy has always been that we should investigate and publish stories in an impartial, balanced and measured way that reflect the issues Bolton faces, at the same time avoiding a constant diet of doom and gloom and complaining about what is wrong without putting forward positive solutions.”

For Ian, a local newspaper was not there to simply report and inform, he saw it as part of the community and something that could bring positive change to Bolton.

He said: “I am proud of the campaigns we spearheaded during my tenure as editor.

“In conjunction with the health trust we launched The Big Bolton Health Check in 2008 which was praised in parliament and credited with saving the lives of hundreds of Boltonians who would otherwise not have been examined by a GP.

“We helped to raise £200,000 for Marie Curie nurses in 2010 and a further £110, 000 in 2013 for Bolton Hospice’s Hospice at Home appeal.

“The wonderful Peter Kay, who is a huge friend of The Bolton News, kindly gave his services for free to us for a 150th anniversary event in December in aid of the hospice.”

He added: “As well as fundraising and awareness campaigns, we were instrumental in persuading the government to act when it came to sentencing of dangerous drivers who left victims seriously injured.

"The minimum sentences were increased for perpetrators after we launched the Drive for Justice campaign in 2010 following an horrific accident when 14-year-old Devon Foster was left seriously injured when a car ploughed into her as she was walking with friends in Bromley Cross.

“Also as someone who lives in Bolton, I make no apology for being positive about great redevelopment such as the Market Place, successful events like the food and drink festival, the brilliant jewel in the crown that is the Octagon Theatre and the ever-growing University of Bolton, which provides fantastic opportunities for our young people.

"We are the only town in Greater Manchester to have both a world-class theatre and a university and we should shout about it.

“Of course, we have criticised when and where necessary and a newspaper should always do that.

"I firmly believe we should also give credit where it is due and provide constructive ways of solving problems rather than moaning from the sidelines.”

Although Ian is leaving the newspaper, he will still be working in the journalism and communications. He plans to set up his own media, PR and journalism consultancy.

Ian is definitely leaving the paper on a high. He said: “Thanks to the increase in the number of people looking at our stories in our website, we have more people than for decades reading The Bolton News articles every day — around the 90,000 mark.

“I feel the time is right to move on after 10 years as editor, but I will be very sad to leave behind the staff who have supported me over the years and who work tremendously hard to produce the latest news every day for both the newspaper and our website.”

Ian said: “I have had a fascinating, varied and at times very challenging, career doing what I love. I have been very lucky.”

Assistant editor of The Bolton News and weeklies editor Mike Crutchley will act as interim editor until Ian’s replacement is appointed.