Simon Burrowes, who has been Editor of Debates at the Northern Ireland Assembly since 2001, will be retiring this summer.
From his earliest days as Editor at the Assembly, Simon was the driving force in creating and developing the British-Irish Parliamentary Reporting Association, acting as secretary of the association until 2017. Simon brought his customary enthusiasm and commitment to building and sustaining the relationships that lie at the core of BIPRA, and it was always his particular pleasure to welcome BIPRA colleagues to meetings and symposia in Belfast.
Coming to the post of Editor of Debates at the Assembly at a time when it was still in its infancy as a parliamentary institution, Simon immediately recognised the value that establishing close links and exchanging information with colleagues at all levels of the parliamentary reporting teams throughout Britain and Ireland would bring to his team. BIPRA became a kind of network through which ideas could be discussed, advice sought and co-operation fostered, and the annual symposia were both an opportunity for colleagues from the various parliaments and assemblies to raise and discuss issues of mutual concern and an opportunity for delegates to establish personal contacts and friendships over a glass or two during the events.
As well as being a diligent secretary of the association, Simon was a regular and enthusiastic participant at the symposia and was pleased to welcome BIPRA colleagues to Belfast for the annual gathering in 2007, when he opened the conference as part of an unlikely double act with the Reverend Ian Paisley, then First Minister of Northern Ireland, and again in 2016. However, colleagues will have met Simon at many of the association’s events and executive meetings over the years and will have found him to be a cheerful, convivial and enthusiastic member of the Hansard community. Simon’s presence will be missed at BIPRA events to come, but we will be conscious that the very existence of the association and of the relationships that bind it together are due in large part to his efforts over the years, for which we are grateful. We wish Simon all the best for his retirement and hope that, if his schedule of caravan trips and umpiring cricket matches allows, he might drop in again on his BIPRA colleagues.
Alex Newton, who retired as Editor of the Official Report (Hansard) in the House of Commons on 7th June 2022, was a leading member of BIPRA and will be much missed by colleagues.
Alex joined the House of Commons service in 1989. After 16 years of covering debates in various capacities, and having played a leading role in establishing the Official Report at the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff, he became Deputy Editor in 2005 and Editor in 2015.
As Editor, Alex took ultimate responsibility for delivery of service by Hansard and by the Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit, including during the covid-19 pandemic.
As Deputy Editor, Alex professionalised and codified parliamentary reporting as a discipline. He introduced a postgraduate diploma in parliamentary reporting delivered in partnership with City, University of London. Alex began Hansard’s longstanding relationship with the social mobility charity UpReach, which has contributed to a record number of applicants in recent recruitment campaigns, and a significantly younger and more diverse staff.
Alex has spoken at many BIPRA events over the years, and always made the case for as many House of Commons staff as possible to attend and participate in conferences. We wish him well for the future.