The Blizzard, as people who’ve been with us since we launched three years ago will know, drew much of its inspiration (that is, we nicked the name and the masthead) from a Sunderland-based weekly newspaper of 1893. Set up as “the organ of Mr Sidney Duncan”, it seemed to be written entirely by him, was strikingly eccentric and was concerned largely with the furtherment of his own political career. It lasted 12 issues before folding. 

I set myself a target of matching what Duncan had done and now, happily, we’ve achieved that. Surpassed it even, if you include the pilot, Issue Zero. That that has been possible has been down to the writers and the other people who work behind the scenes (thanks Dave, Garreth, Nina, Michael, Peter, Kev, Andy, Vince, Lawrence and Kat). Looking back I still can’t quite believe how many people were prepared to put in so much effort in that first year when there was a genuine possibility none of us would be paid a penny, and for their belief and willingness to invest in a half-expressed dream I’m hugely grateful.

But it’s also down to you, the readers, for the leap of faith you took in buying a product essentially blind, on the back of little more, initially, than a few woolly Tweets. The pay-what-you-want model was a huge gamble, but the vast majority of people have been respectful of that, have accepted that if the magazine is to be available to all, then everybody has to be realistic about what they can afford to pay. My faith in humanity is regularly tested by Twitter and the comments sections below articles; that so few people have exploited the pay-what-you-want model restores it. I’m grateful for that, and I’m also grateful so many people have clearly told others about the magazine. Please keep doing so, whether through social media, through blogs or articles or even in that most old-fashioned of ways, face-to-face: our advertising budget remains zero; word of mouth is everything.

I know I’ve said this before, but we are a community and we can only continue in our present form if we continue to be so. Thanks to everybody for everything they’ve done so far, but as we leave Sidney Duncan’s mark behind, let’s all keep pushing through the next dozen and beyond.