Steve Leary retires as St Helens Star editor after 22 years at the helm

Steve Leary has retired from the Star editor after 22 years as editor and four decades at the newspaper

Steve Leary has retired from the Star editor after 22 years as editor and four decades at the newspaper

First published in News
Last updated

STEVE Leary has announced his retirement as editor of the St Helens Star.

He bows out after a career that has seen him spend 40 years at the newspaper, 22 of which were in the editor’s chair.

Steve, who turned 65 this year, joined the Star not long after its formation in 1973, when few people gave an “upstart freesheet” any chance of survival.

But that tag was soon banished as the Star’s editorial team, including the then editor Alan Whalley, Frank Martin and Steve, identified the appetite for a fresh take on local news and sports coverage.

Speaking this week, Steve, from Rainford, said a standout “source of pride was the way so many St Helens people took the Star to their hearts”.

Among the most cherished memories of his editorship were driving up funds for the Baby Danielle Appeal of the 1990s, which saw more than £90,000 raised by readers to fly a local girl with a facial disfigurement for life-changing surgery in America.

Backing the campaign to establish Willowbrook Hospice, fighting off attempts by the Boundary Commission to do a ‘land grab’ and place Haydock Park racecourse in Wigan, and being involved in a partnership to support the creation of Saints’ Langtree Park are other key achievements.

And celebrating the superhuman exploits of Steve Prescott and Andy Reid are picked out as highlights of recent years.

News of Steve’s retirement led to a flurry of tributes from senior figures across the town.

St Helens North Labour MP Dave Watts said: “He has been a great servant to the people of St Helens and always did his utmost to promote the best interests of the borough."

“His enthusiasm and dedication will be sorely missed.”

Carole Hudson, chief executive of St Helens Council, described Steve as “a true champion for St Helens”. She added: “Throughout his illustrious career he has demonstrated great talent and commitment.

“St Helens and its people are in his blood and he has carried out sterling work in highlighting and campaigning for local causes.

“He has always been fair and measured in his work and his integrity is second to none."

It was a view echoed by council leader Barrie Grunewald, who said: “I have always admired Steve for his complete impartiality, commitment and his drive to report issues of the day in a fair manner. “So many people around St Helens have him to thank for raising local issues and injustice along with highlighting some of the plights faced by some residents.

It is his ‘people first’ approach that has made Steve such a good journalist and campaigner for the good of St Helens. I wish him well.”

Despite the newspaper industry having to navigate hurdles posed by changes in technology and reading habits, the Star remains in a strong position, with the newspaper still distributed to more than 70,000 homes each week and, in some weeks, online readership peaking beyond more than 40,000 people.

Comments (7)

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3:01pm Thu 21 Aug 14

keepitreel says...

Does this mean the STAR will have a less hand in glove relationship with the LABOUR party in this town,and be more biting in its comments on actions taken by the council on decisions made that impact poorly on the people of this town,how long can the council hide behind the statement," its the cuts"without being challenged by the local press.
Does this mean the STAR will have a less hand in glove relationship with the LABOUR party in this town,and be more biting in its comments on actions taken by the council on decisions made that impact poorly on the people of this town,how long can the council hide behind the statement," its the cuts"without being challenged by the local press. keepitreel
  • Score: 1

6:48pm Thu 21 Aug 14

Robbob5 says...

Retirement only means that its Time for a new Adventure,Happy days Steve
Retirement only means that its Time for a new Adventure,Happy days Steve Robbob5
  • Score: 4

6:51pm Thu 21 Aug 14

lawman2004 says...

St Helens Council and the local labour party must be besides themselves with grief....
St Helens Council and the local labour party must be besides themselves with grief.... lawman2004
  • Score: -3

8:00pm Sun 24 Aug 14

anthonywilson says...

If nothing else some of the comments made by members of St Helens Council in this article cheered me up for their comedy value if nothing else.
If nothing else some of the comments made by members of St Helens Council in this article cheered me up for their comedy value if nothing else. anthonywilson
  • Score: 0

10:11am Mon 25 Aug 14

wombat666 says...

Another one has escaped. The Star has lost its quality workers over a time. Some not by their choice but by new technology. Alan Whalleys column was read and loved by me and I am sure countless others. Frank Martin who worked for 33 years and spent most of his life in the office and not to mention Denis Whittle oh I have. Some of the Very oldies (not Frank) but goodies who have left but are not forgotten.
Another one has escaped. The Star has lost its quality workers over a time. Some not by their choice but by new technology. Alan Whalleys column was read and loved by me and I am sure countless others. Frank Martin who worked for 33 years and spent most of his life in the office and not to mention Denis Whittle oh I have. Some of the Very oldies (not Frank) but goodies who have left but are not forgotten. wombat666
  • Score: -2

7:00pm Mon 25 Aug 14

BillMitch says...

keepitreel wrote:
Does this mean the STAR will have a less hand in glove relationship with the LABOUR party in this town,and be more biting in its comments on actions taken by the council on decisions made that impact poorly on the people of this town,how long can the council hide behind the statement," its the cuts"without being challenged by the local press.
you can't lose over £60 million in government grant without it impacting services in a massive way. I'm sure if you put forward a lucid argument as to why service cuts are NOT the result of grant cuts The Star would be only too pleased to hear it.All council are slashing services as a direct result of a huge reduction in government grant,live with it.
[quote][p][bold]keepitreel[/bold] wrote: Does this mean the STAR will have a less hand in glove relationship with the LABOUR party in this town,and be more biting in its comments on actions taken by the council on decisions made that impact poorly on the people of this town,how long can the council hide behind the statement," its the cuts"without being challenged by the local press.[/p][/quote]you can't lose over £60 million in government grant without it impacting services in a massive way. I'm sure if you put forward a lucid argument as to why service cuts are NOT the result of grant cuts The Star would be only too pleased to hear it.All council are slashing services as a direct result of a huge reduction in government grant,live with it. BillMitch
  • Score: -3

3:33pm Tue 26 Aug 14

barrie timpson says...

The cuts have had an impact yes , but I'd like to know why the 90 million pounds in the bank have not been used to buffer them.
In fact every cut that has been made so far could have been covered by what's in the bank.
How did the council respond in this time of extreme hardship? - They bought everybody in their ranks an iphone and ipad , an absolute necessity I'm sure.
They closed Sutton Swimming pool due to insufficient funds - only to follow that up by giving Parr half a million pounds and then announce they were pouring funds into a new "leisure village complex" on the former Ruskin drive site.
As for the cuts - they won't have an impact forever and I for one would rather have them all out of the way - unless you would prefer the IMF to do the cutting for us like Greece?
Let's not forget who ran up the immense debt in the first place - instead of pouring trillions into an illegal war , they could have spent it on the ever increasing poverty gap - let's not forget that before New Labour , food banks had never been heard of in this country and there use has doubled or trebled or more every year since they started. Not to mention they also failed on their child poverty pledge and oversaw another rift in the North South divide.
So in response to your "you can't lose 60m in government grant without it impacting services in a massive way" - well yes actually - the council could have covered every cut and still had 20 million left in the reserves.
Reserves which I may add can be as little as ten pounds , as I found out from a freedom of information request.
The cuts have had an impact yes , but I'd like to know why the 90 million pounds in the bank have not been used to buffer them. In fact every cut that has been made so far could have been covered by what's in the bank. How did the council respond in this time of extreme hardship? - They bought everybody in their ranks an iphone and ipad , an absolute necessity I'm sure. They closed Sutton Swimming pool due to insufficient funds - only to follow that up by giving Parr half a million pounds and then announce they were pouring funds into a new "leisure village complex" on the former Ruskin drive site. As for the cuts - they won't have an impact forever and I for one would rather have them all out of the way - unless you would prefer the IMF to do the cutting for us like Greece? Let's not forget who ran up the immense debt in the first place - instead of pouring trillions into an illegal war , they could have spent it on the ever increasing poverty gap - let's not forget that before New Labour , food banks had never been heard of in this country and there use has doubled or trebled or more every year since they started. Not to mention they also failed on their child poverty pledge and oversaw another rift in the North South divide. So in response to your "you can't lose 60m in government grant without it impacting services in a massive way" - well yes actually - the council could have covered every cut and still had 20 million left in the reserves. Reserves which I may add can be as little as ten pounds , as I found out from a freedom of information request. barrie timpson
  • Score: 3

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