In the beginning...
The first edition of the Wiveliscombe Messenger was published in 1997, to serve the area now known as the '10 Parishes': Ashbrittle, Bathealton, Brompton Ralph, Chipstable, Clatworthy, Fitzhead, Huish Champflower, Milverton, Stawley and Wiveliscombe. The paper was set up as a partnership between Kingsmead Community Education, the Wiveliscombe Civic Society and the West Somerset Free Press. Initial funding came from a grant from a Communities First in Rural Somerset initiative, and the Free Press agreed to print the paper in exchange for the advertising revenue.
Volunteers formed an editorial team, the West Somerset Free Press sold the advertising space and designed the pages, and the local Scouts delivered the paper around Wiveliscombe, with volunteers distributing it in the parishes beyond the town.
The CFIRS start-up funding kept the paper going for its first two years. The West Somerset Free Press then acquired the title in September 2000.
The initial idea - to produce a local paper full of local news contributed by local people - continues today. There is one member of staff, the Editor, supported by an an Editorial Team of four volunteers, and a large network of regular or occasional contributors who live across the 10 Parishes.