After more than 25 years at Archant Herts & Cambs weekly title the Comet, editor Darren Isted has said his final farewells.

Darren joined the newspaper in April 1989, with stints on both the news and sport desks before taking over as editor in September 2002.

Under his leadership the Comet has remained the widest read newspaper across Stevenage and North Hertfordshire and has become the first choice across Comet country for advertisers seeking to promote their services to 110,000 readers each week.

Darren also helped foster a growing online audience, which continues to go from strength to strength.

During his tenure, the newspaper has won numerous awards – the latest being the EDF East of England Free Weekly Newspaper of the Year, which was received in February.

Ahead of Darren’s departure to start up his own business, the Comet has been inundated with farewell messages.

Publishing director, Jonathan Cropley, said: “Archant and our teams in North Herts are incredibly grateful to Darren for his passion, commitment and sheer hard work over the last 25 years. He will be sorely missed and we wish him well for the future. Although he will be an extremely hard act to follow, we expect to be able to announce his successor as editor for the Comet very soon.”

Tributes have been pouring in for Darren including from local MPs and civic leaders:

North East Hertfordshire MP Oliver Heald said: “Darren has always been very approachable to elected representatives.

“He wants to report local concerns and issues and has been totally committed to local community activities and promoting our area through the Comet.

“He has had great success with the community and business awards. Whether sitting on a sofa with me in Letchworth town square discussing local issues with residents, having a coffee in Royston, watching the football at Stevenage or the rugby with Letchworth or campaigning hard against over development or airport over expansion, Darren has worked closely with me and ensured our area’s views have been well supported in the paper and Comet online.

“He has given a voice to good causes and community events. He is also a nice bloke and I wish him well for the future.”

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland said: “Darren will be missed as he is very well-known in the local community and has made the Comet a community-based newspaper. I have worked with him on a range of campaigns and developed a variety of front page stories and exclusives for the Comet, because Darren could be trusted to focus on what was right for the community.

“On a personal level, I always valued his commitment to Stevenage, local charities we supported together and his passion for Stevenage FC. I will be working with him in his future role and look forward to continuing to develop the massive talent we have here in Stevenage.”

Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor said: “It has been a great pleasure working with Darren over the years as he has developed the Comet into a true community-based newspaper.

“He has played a very full and active part in the community life of our town, always engaging with our partnership work in the So Stevenage partnership and supporting Stevenage Community Trust as well as attending so many of our community events.

“As a journalist he has always struck a great balance between fairness and appropriate challenge and I have appreciated his professionalism and conscientiousness.

“We will miss Darren at the Comet but hope that his new venture will keep him in touch with our Stevenage community and I wish him every success in the future.”

Pictured above is Darren Isted on a visit to Number 10.

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