IT is a remarkable and enduring story. For the past 200 years, the Inverness Courier has reported the news, enabled debate on issues which matter to this area and provided an important platform for trade and commerce to reach their target audiences.
In keeping with our proud tradition of being a champion for the community we serve, we are delighted to announce our backing, in our anniversary year, for an ambitious campaign to develop Scotland’s first integrated centre for children and young people with complex needs.
The Haven Appeal aims to raise £4 million for a facility including respite houses, a community cafe, specialist indoor and outdoor play centres, meeting rooms and a community garden on a derelict site at Smithton.
The anniversary celebrations began on Friday with a civic reception at Inverness Town House and messages of congratulations and tributes have been pouring in from politicians as well as business and community leaders.
Thelma Henderson, managing director of Scottish Provincial Press which publishes the Courier, reflected on the paper’s significant achievement.
"This is an impressive milestone to reach for any business and I would like to pay tribute to our readers, advertisers and other customers without whom we wouldn’t have reached it," she said.
"Our amazing staff have reported on so many incredible events over the last two centuries and that is something that is very much worth celebrating.
"It’s no secret that local newspapers face challenging times as our business model changes dramatically.
"But what has never changed is our commitment to the communities we serve in the north of Scotland and that will never waver."
The company’s editorial director David Bourn said: "Ever since the first copy of the paper rolled off the presses in December 1817 up until the present day, the Inverness Courier has fought for what is best for the city and our readers and kept a watchful eye on those charged with taking care of their interests.
"I firmly believe that an essential part of any modern democracy is a free press that holds those who spend public money to account and shines a light into the darkened corners where some people don’t want us to look.
"But what we also must be is the area’s most vociferous cheerleader, championing all that is great about this wonderful part of the world that we are all lucky enough to call our home.
"It’s hard to imagine the democratic deficit that would be created in a world where papers like the Courier don’t exist."
The Courier’s story began on December 4, 1817 when the first edition, which was given away for free, was published and printed over a bookseller’s shop in the High Street.
It was backed by a group of subscribers including mainly booksellers, bankers and postmasters in the town who vowed that although the paper would carry a sufficient supply of national news and all the ordinary contents of a newspaper, the Courier’s distinguishing feature would be the interest and variety of its provincial news. They also announced they stood "upon open, neutral independent ground".
Today, the bound editions dating back to that first – and now fragile – edition line our newsroom bookshelves. They are tangible testament of that founding commitment which has been continued over the decades by successive owners and teams of editors, journalists, managers, advertising, production and administrative staff.
It adds up to 17,856 editions, thousands of columns, millions of words charting the development of the Highland capital, documenting notable events from fires to floods, scrutinising councils and other organisations, holding civic leaders and politicians to account – and even recording the first modern-day sighting of Nessie in 1933.
From the quirky to the serious, the Courier places itself at the frontline of the area’s news.
Our history is inextricably woven into the fabric of Inverness’s history for overwhelmingly, it is the stories about local communities and people which we passionately care about and believe we do better than anyone else.
We look forward to sharing your triumphs, being a sympathetic ear to your tragedies, smiling at the quirky events and pondering on the serious issues in the years ahead.
Our story is your story too.