When I first started as a reporter for the Stratford Press, an acquaintance mockingly called community news reporting as being "cats stuck up trees".
Fast forward nearly 10 years now, and I have certainly covered my fair share of pet stories over the years, from much-loved family pets returning home after being missing for over a year to pet livestock winning big at local calf and lamb days around the district.
This week however, our reporter Alyssa quite literally wrote about a cat up a tree when she followed our fantastic local volunteer fire brigade on a callout to rescue Keisha the kitty cat who had spent a cold and wet night stuck up a tree near her house.
My acquaintance might have been condescending when they talked about cats up trees as being the bread and butter of community newspapers, but actually, cats up trees are the quintessential example of why Alyssa and I love working as community news reporters.
Keisha the cat was rescued to the delight of her owner, and is now back safe and sound where she belongs. It's a story that is all about the good stuff in our community. It's a story about our awesome volunteer firefighters, without whom our town would suffer. It's a story with a happy ending, and that is my favourite type of story to write, or read, in our local community.
Keisha's rescue isn't the only good news in this week's paper, we have also covered the great fundraising efforts by Murphy Farrell, the 12-year-old who raised over $700 for a good cause by sacrificing his beloved mullet. Then there's the fundraising concert taking place to help support a much-loved member of Taranaki's country music community, and an article on a great holiday programme for young basketballers in the district.
Oh yes, and there is also the fact Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was in Eltham on Friday, supporting local Covid-19 vaccination initiatives and even picking up a couple of gifts from a local shop in Stratford as well as lunch on her way to New Plymouth.
The PM's visit is obviously also a great news story for the district, and our paper and Alyssa and I certainly consider ourselves very lucky to be able to cover VIP visits such as these.
In my time at the paper here, I have been privileged to cover visits to the region by the two previous PMs as well as our current one, along with visits from leaders of the opposition over the years, Olympic medallists, even Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall during their visit to Taranaki a few years ago.
On the face of it, those visits are more exciting than cats up trees. Well, in one way yes of course they are, but on the other hand, it's the daily feel-good, good news kind of stories that are indeed the bread and butter of community newspapers like ours that actually make our paper what it is.
We are the cheerleader for our community, here to celebrate all the great things that happen here on a daily basis, from PM and future king visits to our volunteer firefighters coming to the aid of a stranded cat. Of course, we are also here to hold officialdom to account on your behalf, shining a light on issues that impact our daily lives, from potholes and the general atrocious state of SH3 through to closures of maternity units and other essential services.
The point is we are here in your community, celebrating alongside you when the good news happens, and ready to listen to your concerns and help you raise them when the not-so-good is happening. So thanks to all of you for sharing your stories with us, and please, keep on telling us what is happening in your part of our community.
Whether it's a VIP visit or something a little less grand, we love hearing your stories and sharing them with our readers, so email or call us and share your stories with us.
Oh, and for the cat lovers out there - the PM's visit to Eltham also featured a cat - local feline Tootsie happily strolled around the vaccination centre keeping a close eye on the proceedings.