Batchelor named PA Northern editor

Will Batchelor is taking over as PA Northern editor following the retirement of Peter Beal after 30 years in the job.

Batchelor joined PA as a reporter in Liverpool in 2001 and was appointed Northwest chief reporter in 2003.

Before joining PA he worked at the Mercury Press Agency in Liverpool, rising to news editor.

Following another retirement at the agency, that of Peter Archer, Laura Elston has been made court correspondent. She joined PA in 2000 as a trainee. In 2003, Elston was appointed deputy court correspondent in 2003.

In another change, Jane Kirby has been made health correspondent. She joined PA in 2002, also as a trainee.

Beal, 57, is celebrating his retirement by fulfilling a long-held ambition to attempt to walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

Beal joined PA’s reporting staff in London in 1976 before moving to Scotland and then to Manchester as chief Northern correspondent.

During nearly 20 years there he covered stories that included: the miners’ strike; Lockerbie, Kegworth and Manchester Airport air disasters; the Heysel and Hillsborough football tragedies; the Bradford City fire and the crimes of killer GP Harold Shipman.

Beal plans to raise funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association after friend and former colleague, Derek Smith, 65, from Elland, West Yorkshire, died of the illness.

He will start the expected threemonth trek on 6 May.

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