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Four years later he and his backers sold it to a large competitor for a big profit. This company then got into financial difficulties and Mark was invited to help ‘save’ the business as Chief Executive. That was a prelude to a roller- coaster two years involving aborted takeovers, Office of Fair Trading rulings etc that it could not be sold to another competitor. Eventually, controversial ex-Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie wrested control of the company and Mark happily left.


Mark and his wife Ruth – who had met when they were both at college and have had two sons together – had bought a holiday home in Kingswear in 2003.


“I used to come sailing at Dartmouth as a boy and was delighted to buy a home here.”


After a couple of years’ sabbatical, they decided to move here permanently, renovating a large house in Kingswear and had planned to get involved with another company in North Devon of all places. “ I would have exchanged a weekly commute from Dorset to London to one from North to South Devon! Anyhow, the deal fell over just at the last moment and I started to look for business opportunities in this area. “ Which brings us to By the Dart.


“I thought it would be a fun little project to start a small publishing company here, publishing a number of titles, starting with By the Dart,” he said. “The first couple of issues were a real family affair. Actually, until By The Dart, I had never written a word, designed a page or even directly sold an advertisement in a magazine – I used to manage others to do that. So we rolled up our sleeves with my son Tom taking charge of design and layout – teaching himself how to use the software - both Ruth and I wrote some stuff for it, Ruth did the admin and I got some advertising in. It was a steep learning curve but it became clear quickly that this was a special area and we could create a wonderful magazine.” With a small team of loyal and hard-working part time and freelance staff and willing contributors, By the Dart soon became a success and Mark has a clear idea why. “I think it reflects back to the community why we all love being here – it’s why our magazine strap line is ‘Celebrating local life’,” he said. “By design and a bit of accident, we quickly established the winning formula. A Paul Barclay logo, a nice photograph on the cover, quality design and glossy paper, the special size (since copied by many other magazines) and a comprehensive distribution delivering directly to people’s homes were all important to its success. We also decided to concentrate on interviews with local people – I don’t think we can underestimate how


“I think it reflects back to the community why we all love being here – it’s why our magazine strap line is ‘Celebrating local life’


interested everyone is in people from their community. “And we also make sure we have great editorial with lots of people writing for us and have a comprehensive ‘what’s on’ section. There is so much to see and do in this community and the magazine has an important role in keeping everyone informed and entertained. The reaction from readers has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s unusual to get such positive and constant feedback when publishing a magazine, as obviously the readers are my neighbours! The key thing has always been to publish what we at By The Dart are interested in reading ourselves about Dartmouth. It works well for advertisers as they can guarantee being seen by everyone in a magazine that is very well read and


kept. We are delighted people like it - but, by golly, hitting the deadlines every issue is a killer!” Four years and fifty editions later, Mark and Ruth are


part of the community, have fun ‘messing about in boats’ at every opportunity (well, Mark does) and seem settled and content. So what has he learned thanks to By the Dart? “That it’s wonderful living and working in this wonderful place – and the commute by the Lower Ferry beats a London tube any day!”


WHEELHOUSE DARTMOUTH


Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and congratulations to By The Dart on their 50th edition


7, Fairfax Place, Dartmouth, TQ6 9AD


www.wheelhouse-dartmouth.co.uk GREAT BRITISH FISH & CHIPS


01803 834446 53


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