HIS name has appeared on the front page of The Westmorland Gazette for 30 years, and his illustrations have covered everything from foot-and-mouth disease to Bownessie.

Cartoonist Colin Shelbourn is this year celebrating three decades of making readers laugh with his distinctive doodling.

“It’s peculiar to think that my cartoons are older than some of the journalists,” he joked.

Originally from Dorset, Colin moved to the Lakes while at school and started working for the Gazette in his early 20s.

“I’d just started working as a freelance illustrator and I thought the paper ought to have a cartoonist.

“I went to see the editor at the time who said they’d been thinking the same thing, so I just happened to time it right.”

Every week Colin looks through the week’s news, picks five or six stories and produces four sketches.

“It’s the stories that give me the inspiration – and panic,” he said.

“You’re looking for a good subject where you know there’s a joke to be made and that you want to say something about.

“A cartoon is one of the few parts of the newspaper that should have an opinion, and I often find the best ones are the ones that someone complains about.”

Humour is an important part of Colin’s job, as he explained, “It can sometimes get under people’s skin better than editorial. Because it’s a joke it can lull people into thinking about it afterwards.”

But he has never shied away from hard-hitting subjects, and counts the Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy and the arrival of foot-and-mouth disease as two of his most poignant subjects.

One of his most recent cartoons related to the Gazette’s Hands off our Hospital campaign, and ironically one of his first was part of the newspaper’s campaign to get the hospital built.

On what makes this a unique patch for news, Colin said: “So many people care about the Lakes, even people who just come here to visit, and I can’t think of many other places in the country that get this much outside attention.”

Browse a selection of Colin's favourite Gazette cartoons at http://www.shelbourn.com/gazette30.