This week we are launching Holding Our Community Together, our campaign to raise awareness about the impact made by your local newspaper every week.

After the last 18 months have disrupted everyday life in ways few of us could have imagined, we remain proud about the positive difference our brand has made during the pandemic and successive lockdowns.

Just as we have done for generations, we have reported on life in our area through the bad times and the good. With people reading our website and following our title and its staff on social media, we are reaching more people than ever before.

Nobody understands our community like your trusted local newspaper, so we wanted to shout about the difference we make.

We take pride in the reach, audience engagement and editorial coverage we deliver and the impact we make each week in the area we serve.

During the pandemic, we kept you updated on Government regulations, Covid statistics and impact in your local area, details of support groups within all our communities, fabulous stories of how people were overcoming adversity and the wonderful efforts of our local residents to help each other through the crisis. As the bleakness of the situation was all over the national news, we reported on the community spirit — the Tavistock teenager who used her grandma’s sewing machine to sew up baskets of face masks; the woman who dressed up as an Easter bunny to deliver Easter eggs to all the children in Walkhampton to scotch fears that Easter had been cancelled due to lockdown; the Okehampton youngster who made lemonade for his neighbours; the foodbanks set up in village halls; and the huge effort to deliver hundreds of Christmas dinners to the elderly and vulnerable in the Tavistock area after the usual Christmas lunch for those on their own had to be cancelled.

The Tavistock and Okehampton Times was packed with stories like this whilst still bringing you up-to-date with other important local issues and alocal government stories including planning issues like 250 homes approved for Tavistock which was decided under delegated powers and the outcry over plans to ban sheep from Dartmoor in the Government’s rewilding plans. Stories like this provoked many letters and throughout the pandemic our letters pages have been buzzing with opinions on all different subjects, keeping the community talking and interacting despite being forced to stay at home in lockdown or self isolating, many furloughed from their jobs and others with very limited human contact.

Our newsteams have faced challenges of their own with a reduced workforce but throughout the pandemic we have found ways of covering your stories and supporting the communities.

Having published news in this area since 1857 we can confidently say nobody understands our communities, their strengths and challenges, like us.

As well as holding deep local knowledge, we occupy an unrivalled position celebrating the achievements of our people and holding to account those in authority when questions need to be raised for the public interest.

We can point to the unique ways we have led the public response to important local issues. This includes the campaign to reopen Meadowlands Pool in Tavistock and the efforts to reinstate the regular passenger train service from Okehampton to Exeter.

Our brand is built on reporting stories about local people, whether it is the everyday milestones in their lives or their extraordinary achievements.

The good news stories we have enjoyed sharing with you recently include fundraising efforts to replace an outdoor pavilion for children of Tavistock Primary School which was burnt down in a suspected arson attack, the Tour of Britain bringing the feel-good factor back to West Devon, the West Devon Recognition Awards for 33 community heroes who went over and above to help their communities during the pandemic and one local councillor’s mission to clean every road sign in Tavistock; the success of the vaccine programme in Okehampton and Tavistock and the return of the iconic Okehampton Show.

The world has changed and continues to change, yet we are proud of the unique place we hold in local life.

We are grateful for your continued support and look forward to sharing all the important news for our community, both in your trusted weekly newspaper or on our website, as we rebuild from the shock of the pandemic.

Most of all, we will value the unique place we hold in the community, reporting on local life as a trusted voice for you. Thank you for supporting us as we carry on, holding our community together.