3rd Mar, 2021

And it's goodbye from me.....

TODAY brings to an end my 19-year career at Bullivant Media and 13 years as editor of the Arden and Solihull Observers.

I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has played a part in that journey.

Thank you to all the wonderful people I have worked with, the charities I have been lucky to be involved with and the many others I have met along the way.

There is much to reflect on over the past 19 years – most of which I cannot remember anymore as the years blur into one another.

There are, however, a handful of key stories and achievements which will remain with me forever.

The shocking and upsetting case of shamed breast surgeon Ian Paterson is one I will never forget.

Having covered the story from the very beginning, I am so glad I was here to see him found guilty and jailed for his heinous crimes.

I have met so many wonderful women – and men – whose lives have been destroyed by this evil man and whose stories I have listened to and re-told.

His punishment certainly does not fit the crimes, but justice has at least been done in part now that he is behind bars.

I wish all the very best for the future for every one of his victims and their families.

Some of the fondest memories I have of my 19-year tenure are the associations we have created with so many wonderful charities, their supporters and fundraisers.

Special mention, however, has to go to the Marie Curie Hospice in Solihull, which will always have a special place in my heart.

Fifteen years ago tomorrow (Friday) I lost my dad Paul following a short cancer battle.

The support, love and care shown to me, my mum Ruth and sister Victoria, was invaluable – truly invaluable and something we will never forget.

As soon as The Observer launched in Solihull, I quickly struck up a great working relationship with the hospice – giving extensive coverage to the amazing work it does and the wonderful people who support it and raise money.

This relationship developed into an official media partnership – a partnership I am so proud to have been a part of and during which the hospice moved from its old HQ on Warwick Road into its amazing, state-of-the-art £7m new home in Marsh Lane from where it provides the very best care for terminally ill patients and their families at such a crucial time in their lives.

If I could wish for one legacy of my time at The Observer it would be for the paper to continue to show the same love and support to the wonderful charities in Solihull – and to continue to support Marie Curie on its journey forward.

Last, but by no means least, are the great working friendships I have made over the years.

These people know who they are.

But one person gets a special mention – Matt ‘Batesy’ Bates.

I only worked with Batesy for a couple of years, but he was a very special person who was loved by everyone who knew him.

Out of nowhere he was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer in 2014.

Despite the bravest of battles, Matt passed away in October 2016, aged just 27.

His passing – and the amazing spirit and integrity he and his family showed throughout his battle – has been an inspiration to all of us who worked with him to seize the day and go out and live life to the fullest.

In fact, my outgoing employers can partly blame him for me having decided to bite the bullet and build a new future.

As you can imagine, leaving all these wonderful people behind has been a very hard decision and one made with a very heavy heart.

But the timing is right in so many ways.

I will be joining my wife as a director at our PR firm – www.parklanepr.co.uk in case you’d like to procure our services! – and look forward to crossing paths with many of you again.

For now, I would like to wish all our readers, advertisers, friends and contacts a happy and healthy future and many more wonderful editions of the Solihull Observer.

It has been a pleasure.

Chris Willmott

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