WELL, we made it – Lyme Regis has almost reached the end of this most unprecedented and unforgettable year.
Events cancelled, doors closed, streets empty – 2020 will definitely go down in the history books and, while we’re not quite out of the woods yet, let’s hope it is just that – history – and we can all begin to move on in 2021.
It seems strange to think that maybe one day coronavirus will be a distant memory, and we’ll look back and say, “Do you remember that strange year when we couldn’t go out, when we couldn’t meet friends, when we all wore masks, when the pubs were closed?”
Here’s hoping anyway!
We started the year in an enthusiastic mood in the LymeOnline office. We launched our weekly video news bulletins on our website in January, marked our second anniversary in February and printed our most financially successful edition just before coronavirus really hit the UK in March, when we were forced to put the newspaper on hiatus due to the financial implications of lockdown.
For me, that was pretty heartbreaking. While I have worked in the local press since I was 18, LymeOnline is the first newspaper I have launched myself – I’ve built the website, written articles, taken photos, filmed videos, designed pages, sold adverts, grown our social media following and hand-delivered the papers around town (with lots of help from my family, that is!).
Basically, I’ve obsessed about it everyday for almost three years – it is my baby.
Back in March, the idea of that all falling apart was devastating. But we stuck at it, knowing that the need for local, trusted news was probably greater than ever in such uncertain times.
We continued to update our website everyday, produced a digital edition of the newspaper every fortnight for readers to flick through on screen, and for a few weeks even printed a scaled-back, eight-page version to pop through the doors of some of our most loyal readers, especially those with no internet access.
Every day we wondered if our business would survive – a feeling shared by many in the Lyme Regis business community, I am sure – but every day we were spurred on by the kindness and support of our readers, who told us how much they appreciated LymeOnline. You really kept us going!
And finally there was some good news; having almost given up hope on grant applications, we were told we had been successful in applying for the Google News Initiative’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund (the one we thought we were least likely to get!), and a little while later, a discretionary grant for Dorset Council – thanks in no small part to help from our local MP Chris Loder.
There were other reasons to celebrate in the midst of the pandemic, too; in May we teamed up with Nub News, a national network of hyperlocal news websites, to provide coverage of Axminster and Seaton; in June, LymeOnline was commended in the Community Website of the Year category of the newsawards 2020; and in August the LymeOnline site attracted record hits of 37,964.
August also saw the printed LymeOnline newspaper relaunched after 20 weeks and, while advertising revenues are not what they were back in February, we are building on them every week.
The second national lockdown came as another bitter blow in November, but fortunately this time we were only out of print for two issues and are now fully up and running again.
We hope to keep it that way in 2021 – to continue to grow, flourish and bring you unrivalled coverage of the Lyme Regis area.
Of course, we wouldn’t have been able to make it through this year without the continued support of our readers, sponsors, advertisers and volunteer paper ‘boys and girls’ – the biggest and most grateful thanks to you all.
When you pick up a copy of our newspaper, click onto our website, book an advert, make a donation or share a story with us, you are supporting an independent, family-run business with the community at heart.
A very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year to all.