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21 Good Years

It was one of those long sleepy afternoons; the students had been set to work and the room hummed with chatter. I had been teaching for 30 years and I was getting restless – I loved the job but it was time to move on. What could I do? It came to me that I could have a go at starting a local magazine as there was a gap in the market locally. I needed a team but had no investment money so I was delighted when my daughter Lucy offered to help out designing the magazine. Soon we were planning the magazines together and became a team.

Afternoons were spent hunting new advertising to reach our weekly sales target while mornings were spent looking into stories and leads. We both enjoyed arranging interviews with local celebrities. June Whitfield was one of our favourites. On one occasion we met the wonderful June at Cannizaro Hotel for tea (at that time a very quiet place). I asked what made her so successful. “Remember your lines and don’t bump into the furniture,” she answered with a twinkle in her eye. Later we met at her home in the village swapping old theatrical stories.

The office was in my front room and Lucy and I laid each issue out on the dining room floor anxious to see what the pagination would look like.

At that time Lucy did all the designing, sometimes working all night and I would drive the finished design on disc to the printers early in the morning. I well remember the excitement of using the first digital pictures and simply inserting them into the copy. No more badly scanned and poorly printed images from the local camera shop. What a long way technology has come since then!

We both felt that our local Wimbledon magazine could expand into neighbouring areas and Lucy was keen to grow the business, which allowed me to focus on the local editorial. I am proud of the way Lucy took the magazine business over; in 2002 she found new offices, increased the publication from bi-monthly to monthly and created the Time & Leisure brand, launching magazines in Clapham, Kingston & Surrey and growing to a team of more than 20 staff.

The father-daughter business model is pretty unusual, especially one that stands the test of time! But for us it worked so well. Recalling our fledgling beginnings, Lucy says: “In the early days when it was mainly the two of us working full-time on the magazine, we would often finish the day with a glass of wine and discuss the day and our plans for the future. One of those evenings we realised that the company initials T&L also stood for Tony & Lucy, I think that sums up those early years of working together as a father-daughter partnership.”

Time has flown and the business has grown both in print and online, with exciting developments to come. Yet, in a world of conglomerates and face-less publishing businesses, Time & Leisure remains true to its roots, providing a voice for all kinds of community activities and for a variety of projects, which is something we all remain very proud of 21 years on.