By Aidan Lomas – Former Editor-in-Chief
To echo the words of my predecessor, Peter Donnelly, the certainty and immense influence of change is inescapable. Despite not being at the end of my calendared tenure, the realities of my own life must take precedence. Whilst hopeful my successor will allow me the pleasure of having my articles published in the Gown, those articles will no longer be accompanied with the title “Editor-in-Chief”; that great privilege will now be enjoyed and endured by the undoubtedly talented Rory Morrow. With Rory being accompanied by the equally gifted Fleur Howe – the Gown’s Environmental Editor – and simply brilliant Edward Ferrin – Business and Economics Editor & Chief Stormont Correspondent –, I am certain that Gown will only go on to succeed in the short and long term future.
My first article for the Gown was published almost a year to the day. It was a passionate review of some new liveries for the 2021 Formula One season; I still remember the excitement – and remarkable endorphin boost – of seeing my name attached to a published article. Since that fruitful Sunday morning, I have enjoyed the pleasure of writing about Clinton’s investment, political scandals, student movements, new societies, new student Reps., Queen’s University’s remarkable talent for irritating its student populous, the nature of the press, cars, and more . For this I was, and remain, incredibly grateful. Despite being the longest-running student publication in the UK, the Gown is only a small spec in the wider world of student journalism – or for that matter journalism itself . Nevertheless, it’s the GOD’s honest truth when I write that being allowed to make my own small etch in this paper’s 67-year history is something I will look back on with only fond memories for many decades to come. Whilst I’ve not always been completely, shall we say, ‘happy’ with some of the articles I’ve produced, I can say that I am proud to have been a part of this newspaper and remain glad for the relationships I have built because of it.
Following an intense grilling by the Gown’s Trustees, my first mission as Editor-in-Chief was to assemble a team of writers. This team evolved quickly into the current 2021-22 Editorial Team; and what a team it is. Week in, week out – or every two weeks in, every two weeks out if you’d like to be pedantic – they were able to produce quality articles on a variety of topics, ranging from the dull realm of International Affairs and Politics, to the dulcet tones of Creative Writing, entertainment reviews, and Music. Whilst it wasn’t always a stress free experience, I do not believe there was a single Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday evening in which I wasn’t thoroughly enjoying reading each Editor’s article.
Without the tireless work of Rory Morrow, Ellie Fletcher, Ally Rosbotham, Edward Ferrin, Anna Royle, Sean Mulryan, Luke Tinsley, Fleur Howe, and Matthew Cullen, the Gown would never have been able to achieve what it has over the last few months. Their shared commitment to delivering quality articles to the students at Queen’s University and Ulster University was the primary driver for one of the paper’s most successful years; a staggering and well-deserved achievement for all of this year’s Editorial Team.
Whilst the Editorial Team deserve a well-earned celebration, it would not be right to ignore the remarkable efforts made by our regular contributors. I’d like to pay a personal thanks to Aaron Crilly, Claire Dickson, Hannah Weir, and Holly Nesbitt. Whilst none were offered the ‘glitz and glamour’ of being an editor, all four produced some of the best articles featured on the Gown’s pages this year. Whether it be a film review, a critique of social issues, or an incredibly enjoyable spot of Boris Bashing, these four writers deserve equal praise to that of the Editors. So, a massive thank you from a grateful (now former) Editor-in-Chief.
Whilst I can’t pretend leaving the Gown won’t open a considerably noticeable amount of free time in my life, I am excited to both see where the paper will go in the years to come – because, of course, I will be still be reading in years to come – and discover those who will take on the mantels of delivering quality articles to the student population of Northern Ireland.
Whilst confident they won’t need it, I wish the best of luck to Rory, Fleur, and Edward, as well as the team they expand in the coming months, as they continue on into the remainder of this academic year. With each new Editor-in-Chief comes changes to the Gown; with the reigns being placed in the hands once again of a Northern Ireland local, I’m genuinely excited to see where Rory takes the Gown moving forward.
Meanwhile, to those who will have made their way through the Gown’s pages when the paper celebrates its 70th, 80th, 90th, and 100th year, I look forward to seeing what you achieve, and what becomes of this small corner of the world of journalism.