COLLEAGUES past and present gathered at the Forfar Dispatch office on Friday to bid a fond farewell to editor Alan Ducat.
After a career spanning 37 years, Alan has bowed out of his career in journalism.
His departure sparked a flood of tributes from representatives of various organisations he has worked with over the years.
His career began in 1975 when he took up the post of junior reporter with the paper, which at that time was based at Oliver McPherson in St James Road.
He continued with the paper which had then moved to offices in East High Street.
Angus County Press was formed by Iain Wallace and Alistair McSkimming with Alan and his reporting team moving to offices in Castle Street, Craig O’Loch Road and latterly Castle Street as the company grew and the ownership changed.
Alan’s dedication to the paper was praised by many who contacted the office following the announcement last week that he was bowing out.
Kirriemuir and Dean Councillor Iain Gaul, leader of the local authority, praised Alan’s dedication to his role as editor and his commitment to the community in which he lived.
He said: “I wouldn’t like to say how many years I have known Alan as the public face of “The Squeaker”.
“One of the things that he did do as a person was attend the community councils, or had staff attending the community councils in Forfar and Kirriemuir, so that people in the area would know what was going on, unlike other papers which didn’t seem to bother.
“Alan made sure that effort was made, and it was very much appreciated not just by me but by people who served on those community councils.
“That demonstrates how seriously Alan took his job and also what he thought about the areas that he lived in; it was obviously exceptionally important to Alan. He will be missed.
“We know nobody is indispensable but he will be a hard act to follow. I wish him all the best in his well deserved not too early retirement.”
Alan’s dedication in reporting the exploits of the Loons was also recognised at Station Park on Saturday as the home team prepared to take on Stranraer.
Alan has reported on the highs and lows over many seasons at Station Park, interviewing numerous managers over his 37 years and to acknowledge his dedication he was a guest of Forfar Athletic directors in the club’s boardroom on Saturday.
Club secretary David McGregor said: “Forfar Athletic Chairman Alastair Donald thanked Alan for the great support he had given the club in various positions with the Forfar Dispatch over four decades.”
Alan’s commitment and dedication in covering local stories which affected the local community was also highlighted by local historian Sandra Affleck.
In a letter to the paper, she described his departure to pastures new as the “end of an era”.
She said: “All of us who chose to live in the diverse communities of Angus have been privileged to have the lively and informative local papers for which he, with his significant others, have worked tirelessly.
“When we moved into Brechin in 1968, we bought the ‘Brechiner’ to find out what Brechin was all about - and continued to read it weekly thereafter. When we moved to Kirriemuir in 1972, we bought the ‘Kirrie Herald’ for similar reasons, and have continued to read it weekly ever since, through all its ups and downs.” (see letters on page 29).
Mrs Isobel Ross, chairman of Forfar Community Council, commented on his departure at this month’s meeting last Thursday evening.
She said: “I think, as a community council, we must say “well done Alan”, and wish him a very happy and long retirement.”
Warm tributes were also paid from fellow journalists throughout Angus Country Press, from the isles of Bute and Lewis to our offices throughout Angus, the Mearns and Aberdeenshire, as a mark of appreciation for Alan’s unstinting support with other titles over the years.
To mark his departure his colleagues presented Alan with a digital camera and a watch, whilst he received vouchers for a computer from the paper’s owners, Johnston Press.