LIKE THE guy in The Godfather, someone’s made me an offer I can’t refuse, to try something new. And so, dear, dear readers - yes even Scarlett from Corfe Mullen who reckons I am the ‘stupidest journalist that ever lived’ (her framed comment still hangs in my loo) - this is the last column I shall be writing for the Bournemouth Echo.

When I arrived in this town, the internet hadn’t been invented and people were so excited about mobile phones that they took to waving them in the air so you’d notice they’d got one.

I was made the paper’s court correspondent which changed forever how I thought about people who hurt and damaged children, so much so that I couldn’t do my job properly after having my baby and therefore embarked on a proto-version of what you have been kind enough to read here for the past 20 years.

And I have loved it. To be given the opportunity, every week, to sound off about whatever I’d been moaning/ranting/crying/crying with laughter about is the rarest of journalistic privileges. I made my boss at the time pay me extra for doing it but in truth - sorry, Gareth - I’d have done it for nothing.

There isn’t a subject I haven’t covered or a comment sent in by the readers that I haven’t treasured. To have people willing to take the trouble to email or write and tell you that you should be running the country/place a bag over your head/jump off the top of the building is still touching.

I’ve been allowed to write features, interviewing the amazing, fascinating people of this town and its surrounding areas who have been gracious enough to entrust me with their stories. These people include mothers whose babies were stillborn, who shared with me the most intimate details of their precious child’s time on this earth. They include the lovely Wendy, who described for me the torment of watching her beloved husband die. And they include Paul, who gave it to me, chapter and worse, about what it’s REALLY like to be a heroin addict.

I’ve interviewed murderers, George Cross holders, nuns, witches, druids and Battle of Britain pilots. I’ve interviewed ghost-hunters, clairvoyants and more psychics than most people have had hot breakfasts.

I’ve gone Japanese forest bathing, coasteering and training with the Royal Marines. I’ve driven a boat round Poole harbour, done a bin round with Bournemouth Borough Council and persuaded the entire AFC Bournemouth team to take all their clothes off for a photograph. (Yes, even Fletch!). I’ve interviewed everyone from Ken Dodd to Donny Osmond and I’ve loved it all.

Over the years, like a piece of old furniture, quite a few editors have inherited me; from the lovely Gareth Weeks and Ian Murray, the wonderful and much-missed Neal Butterworth, the fun-loving and very understanding (although I know this will ruin his reputation) Toby Granville, and the long-suffering and very amusing Mr Andy Martin.

So what I need to do now is to say thank-you to everyone who’s ever put up with me, or read me, and persuade you to try reading the columns that will be appearing in this Saturday slot written by my colleagues.

If you want to hear what I think about everything I’ll still be ranting away on Twitter @HerFaithness, re-tweeting stories from this newspaper, pictures of cats, penguins, Daniel Craig in his swimmies, and other great stuff.

You can only hope to be a great columnist if you have great readers and I always have - you lot are the best! Thank-you so much for reading...

Liberalists bleating on

AFTER a week confined to barracks - lest a deranged jihadi blow them all to kingdom come - I wonder if the people of Brussels, and the idiot Eurocrats who live with them still think the open borders policy is something worth cherishing?

Or would they willingly return to the passport controls of before, in order to be safer in their own country?

As it is, when our government wants to fight back against the evil ones, the liberalists start bleating on about how we can’t do anything or change our way of lives because ‘the terrorists will win’.

I don’t know what the definition of ‘not changing our lives’ is but for me it would definitely include not being able to go out shopping, having coffee with my mates and travelling the tube without fear of being machine-gunned.

Phil Carey finally honoured 

EIGHTEEN months after his death, France has finally awarded the late, great Bournemouthian Phil Carey, the Legion D’Honneur. Phil was one of those men who fought their way up the D-Day beaches to free Europe from the Nazi menace. When he returned he carried on fighting - for peace and social justice - with an equally formidable force; the Salvation Army.

When ignorant secularists moan that religion ‘causes all the trouble in the world’ it proves they know nothing of men like Phil, for whom his belief inspired a lifetime of decency, kindness, and love for his fellow human being.