SUNDERLAND Echo editor Rob Lawson is to leave the newspaper he used to deliver.
Rob’s departure from the helm of the Echo was announced yesterday to staff at the paper’s Pennywell office.
He is also stepping down from his post as editorial director of its sister titles in Northeast Press.
Sunderland-born Rob joined the Echo as editor in August 2002, having previously been editor at the Shields Gazette.
He said: “Being Sunderland born and bred my ambition was always to edit the Sunderland Echo, my hometown paper and the paper I delivered as a boy.
“The past 10 years have been the best of my career and I’m lucky to have worked with so many talented and dedicated journalists.
“My job has been made so much easier by their expertise.
“I’m sorry to be going, but 10 years is a long time as an editor and the time feels right to go.
“I have been overwhelmed by the kind messages from readers and the many people who I’ve got to know over the last few years.
“Their support has meant a great deal.
“I’m not sure what I’ll be doing next, but it will be in Sunderland.”
Rob also broke the news to followers on Twitter, saying: “Sorry to say I’m leaving the #sunderlandecho after 10 years in the editor’s chair. Leaving behind incredibly talented and committed team! Ta.”
Messages of support for Rob came through on the social networking site after his announcement.
Rob’s former Newcastle Evening Chronicle opposite number Paul Robertson said he was a “great editor” who would be a “big loss to the industry”.
Northern Echo editor Peter Barron tweeted: “Just heard about editor Rob Lawson leaving Sunderland Echo. Very sad – great editor, thoroughly decent bloke.”
The Venerable Stuart Bain, Archdeacon of Sunderland said: ”My dealings with Rob have demonstrated his passion for the city and for the welfare of the people of Sunderland which need to be at the heart of any local newspaper.
“I realise that the voice of the newspaper is a team effort, but this will be a hard act to follow”.
Northeast Press managing director Stuart Birkett said: “Rob has made an outstanding contribution to Northeast Press, and latterly the Group in his role as chairman of the Editorial Review Group, and we wish him well for the future.”
Deputy editor Richard Ord has been made been acting editor of the Echo.