CornwallLive chief reporter Lee Trewhela bids farewell after 30 years of journalism in Cornwall


As I prepare to leave journalism after 30 years – and, more recently, as chief reporter for CornwallLive – all I can say is that it has been an honor and a privilege to give voice to Cornwall residents and spotlight individuals, organizations and communities across the Duchy.

The shy trainee journalist who first joined the Falmouth Packet in 1991 would find it hard to understand if he would continue to interview prime ministers (I’ll always be proud to anger Boris Johnson a few years ago when I posed a leading question to his lackeys must have helped him with – “What is it talk? “), Hollywood actors, rock ‘n’ roll royalty and seeing Cornwall pass from a pretty island place that didn’t interest the world outside Peak Cornwall as much as we have today.

That overwhelming desire for everything Kernow has made my job even more enjoyable in recent years – having tea with Poldark stars Eleanor Tomlinson and Aidan Turner, chatting with actor Daniel Mays at the Fisherman’s Friends movie premiere – but this has also led to stories being written about Cornish people affected by second homes, low wages and infrastructure that was not designed for an influx of thousands more tourists each year.

Read more: Why I will wear Jim Davidson’s abuse in front of 600 people as a badge of honor

I’ve seen them come and go – Olympian Seb Coe’s stint as the Falmouth / Camborne MP now seems like a weird fever dream. Politicians are often wrong and that is why being the spearhead of the CornwallLive Unseen Cornwall campaign last year and being able to highlight the incredible work ordinary people do to tackle poverty and deprivation in this place. wonderful who is loved by so many people but who struggles so much was another honor.

Covering politics has always been the least interesting part of my job. I much preferred to tell the stories of the Cornish people, often the ones who had no voice, whether they confront the authorities, face personal battles or achieve a wonderful goal that we can help them cry out about.

Lee Trewhela outside Buckingham Palace as part of a Cornish Pasty Week envoy to London

As someone who was never good at English except in school, becoming a journalist was about the only thing I considered a career. For a year after graduating from high school, I worked in The West Briton’s production department amid the dying embers of hot metal and the growth of computers that ultimately killed this skillful art of newspaper design.

After studying journalism in Cardiff, I was back in Cornwall and was a very junior reporter at The Packet. In my first week I interviewed a Falmouth cop who I named Sgt Sandy Cock in writing. His name was actually Sgt Sandercock. Not the most auspicious of departures.

Within weeks, I was dropped into the deep end and asked to lead the Helston and Lizard edition of the journal. It was a challenge for a 21 year old to find a front page story and a number of inside pages each week to beat my great rival and soon become a great friend and guru, the late Noel Perry of The West. British.

It was a pleasant time to visit all the villages in The Lizard, make contacts (often in pubs – a journalistic tradition that unfortunately seems to have died out) and get some incredible scoops (which recalls the sailors from RNAS Culdrose who broke into Helston City Council, pooped on the mayor’s desk and slashed a painting of war hero Guy Gibson? It was a scandal I tell you). Being in the field – literally most of the time, often with an angry bull or farmer chasing you – was the best training you could get.

Lee Trewhela interviews Poldark star Aidan Turner ahead of very first episode premiere
Lee Trewhela interviews Poldark star Aidan Turner ahead of very first episode premiere

I then joined The West Briton – The Times at The Packet’s Express at the time – and became a major reporter before deciding, like all young journalists, that the nationals were waving to me. A stepping stone echoed from Gloucestershire, but I realized I had made a horrible mistake. My heart belonged to Kernow. In a time when most of my peers were rushing to the Tamar for better jobs and more money, why couldn’t I be able to forge a successful career in Cornwall?

I returned to The West Briton in 1997 and have never looked back. Then came the glory years when the newspaper sold more than 50,000 copies per week and regularly became the best-selling weekly in the country.

It was also a proud time to be a Truronian enjoying the role of Truro’s community editor and seeing so much change in the city.

It went from a nominal town that actually looked more like a quaint rural town to a “big little town” with aspirations. Who can forget the vibrant nightlife economy when The Loft and then L2 brought clubbers from all over Cornwall, especially for £ 1 on Mondays – yes there were plenty of Tuesdays where I swung on my notepad after being up all night.

Being able to report on the glitzy opening night of Hall For Cornwall in 1997 was a special moment for Truro. 24 years later, the report of the opening of the new-look hall put an end to my career as a journalist in circles.

Cornwall Live chief reporter comes face to face with a critic at the Royal Cornwall Show
Cornwall Live chief reporter comes face to face with a critic at the Royal Cornwall Show

There are so many ups and downs (which I have largely forgotten by now – wish I had kept diaries) but in the last couple of years alone it has been quite astonishing to report the countless effects of Covid, the growing popularity of Cornwall with all its advantages (are there any?) But also its enormous disadvantages, while being at the heart of the G7 summit will prove to be a beautiful event to bow out.

Chatting with people and sharing their stories has never been a job, never more than while undertaking what will always be the pinnacle of my career – editor of What’s On supplements in the West Briton, Cornish Guardian and Cornishman newspapers – when I could share my passion for the amazing music, theater, art, film, food and drink produced in Cornwall. It was the best job in the world.

I was one of the first people to see the Eden Project unveiled – an amazing moment if it ever was – and to follow the rise of the Eden Sessions as one of the greatest musical events in the world, from the very first Pulp concert in 2002 at the most recent, Idles in September. I have never tired of the wonderful experience of seeing some of the greatest musical groups on the planet among biomes.

I reviewed a concert in a clifftop field in Newquay in the early 2000s starring James Blunt of all the “meh” artists. I had no idea that in 2021 I would always review it, but Boardmasters would now welcome over 50,000 music fans. It is the changing face of Cornwall in a microcosm.

In 2005, one of my chefs enthusiastically told me that I should visit a new place in Padstow. My God, that was amazing. I sprang on the humble chief (I made a good mess of his whites) who had produced this manna from heaven. And that’s how I gave Paul Ainsworth his first review. Look at it now … I’m still waiting for the royalties.

Lee Trewhela has interviewed hundreds of musicians and celebrities over the years, including Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips.
Lee Trewhela has interviewed hundreds of musicians and celebrities over the years, including Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips.

When I first started my career, the prospect of reviewing restaurants was almost laughable – standard bistro food, fish and chips along with the odd out-of-the-ordinary restaurant were the order of the day. But in the 2000s, there was a revolution. Being on the cusp of Cornwall’s growth as a premier dining destination was another honor – shouting about our chefs, restaurants, pubs and produce has always been a joy.

From breaking up brothels with the police, from the shock of reporting murders which are thankfully still as rare in Cornwall as when I started 30 years ago, to Will Young who told me to retreating when I interviewed him on the South Bank Show, run-ins with Rik Mayall and Jim Davidson, and Jethro stepping off stage at the wonderfully lawless What’s On Cornwall Awards (WOCA) – everything was unforgettable.

I think I’m right that I’m the oldest journalist still working in Cornwall, but the time has come for me to move on to a new challenge.

I have to say that one of the reasons I go is the amount of abuse and negativity journalists face on social media these days. Regional journalists live in the communities we write about, share the same concerns as the people we write about, and despite the opinions of many on CornwallLive, the reporting team cares deeply and thinks long and hard about this. which is published. And, yes, that does mean we have to question ourselves sometimes.

People try out some of the “content” on CornwallLive, but thousands of people want to read what Gordon Ramsay had for breakfast or Dawn French’s new haircut… we wouldn’t discuss it otherwise. I’m incredibly proud of so many other (other) stories my colleagues and I have written since CornwallLive started five years ago that have brought Kernow to a much wider audience than ever before.

Remember, if you disparage CornwallLive or any other media organization, there are humans at the end. It doesn’t hurt to be nice.

So die to all of you who have read my stories over the years and to everyone I have interviewed, commented on or written about. It was moving, Cornwall. Now here is having to pay for concert tickets like everyone else … hang on …

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More stories from Lee Trewhela:

The day I discovered a brothel next to a Cornwall elementary school

Transformed Hall for Cornwall opens for the first time in three years


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