IT IS the end of an era for a small Dales town which has been kept on the map by a single family for almost six decades.

Wendy Dowbiggin has announced plans to retire from her role as the Gazette’s district correspondent for Bentham, which she took over from her parents in 1985 - 24 years after she gave it a try as a teenager and ‘decided she didn’t like it’.

Her parents, Nellie and Jim, sent weekly bulletins to the paper from 1959 onwards, before the reins were handed back to Wendy at 48 following their deaths.

“I didn’t do it for about two years after they died because things changed for me, changed in my life,” said the Pinewood, Main Street, resident.

“I’ve gone everywhere with a notebook in case I’ve seen something of interest!But now is the time for me to retire.”

The 75-year-old ‘loves’ her town and is, or has been, involved in several local organisations. She is president of the High Bentham WI, has run youth clubs and been a governor for 30 years at High Bentham Primary School.

She was a councillor on Bentham Town Council for 12 years until 2001, with a year as mayor in 1999.

Wendy was born in Melling but moved to Bentham when she was a week old and has lived there ever since, part from one year spent in Manchester.

She attended Bentham Grammar School, a school her father also attended.

As a teenager she took up employment at Angus Fire, in the town, and was the district correspondent for around three years.

Her parents took up the role after she abdicated and her mother kept a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings from the Gazette and its sister paper, The Craven Herald, documenting the town from 1959 onwards.

Wendy said: “Community spirit is very important and people should know what’s happening in their town or village.

“I’m proud that my family has done this for as long as it has but now is the time for me to step down.”

“My best advice for whoever replaces me is keep your ear to the ground and always carry a notebook.”