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WYENOT NEWS - ROSS-ON-WYE
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Wyenot News - The weekly News Magazine for Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire
Issue No. 125 - 13th December 2006
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This Week - [Wyenot Desperately Needs Your Help, Please!]
[BBC Live Flood Reports - Santa is coming to town - Dress as your favourite pop star - Fallen tree - Business of the week]

[Whitchurch Christmas Play - Hosanna Rock at Weston Primary]
[Gresleys Help Macmillan - The Gresleys Illuminations]
[The Bright Lights of Ross]
[Time Travel - Carols in the Maltings - Physics of Santa - Macmillan Christmas Quiz - Smoking Ban - Rugby - Weather]
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Wyenot Desperately Needs Your Help, Please!

I am sorry to start the first page of Wyenot News with this article, especially this close to Christmas but I really need to get this point across and ask for help. Writing and publishing the following has been extremely difficult for me and is the last thing I ever wanted to do but I feel I have no choice. Before you read through the text. I want to make it absolutely clear that I intend to try my very best to sort this problem out and will continue with Wyenot for as long as is humanly possible. Hopefully for very many years to come!

I am not going to explain this using unreadable business jargon because I am not a 'jargon' person and I do not know how. I am just going to come out and say it in my own words and hope that you will understand the reason I am asking for your help.

From the very beginning of Wyenot.com (which went on-line on 6th December 2000) all I have ever done with the web site is try to help the town of Ross-on-Wye with the hope of eventually earning a living from the site myself. I do not mean 'help' in a patronizing way - I mean it in that Ross is a great market town but when I started Wyenot, there was a serious tourism problem, which grew to disaster level with foot and mouth disease. Ross (along with the rest of the UK) needed desperately to attract tourists from the rest of the world.

I built Wyenot.com wholly because I genuinely loved Ross-on-Wye and the local area. My idea of promoting on the web was poo-pooed by the tourism people at the time but that is now water under the bridge and irrelevant. That was because I was ahead of my time with computer technology, having played with it as part of my amateur radio hobby since the 1970s. The internet had not become popular locally at the time.

Some people who were born in Ross may not feel quite the same way about the town as I do but then I was not born here. I moved to Ross-on-Wye in 1976 at the age of 22 years and having been born in Stepney and grown up in the East London Borough of Barking - a right hole if ever there was one. Moving to Ross-on-Wye was like dying and going to Heaven and I have loved the place ever since.

For the town of Ross-on-Wye and its surrounding villages, especially Symonds Yat, Wyenot has been a success beyond my wildest dreams. Every business in the whole area which relies on money coming in from tourism and every trader in Ross-on-Wye has made money from Wyenot, whether they realize it or not. Many local businesses who have never even heard about Wyenot have made money from it. I do not think I am exaggerating if I say that Wyenot has brought £millions worth of business to the area over the past six years.

I personally know of eight people who have bought houses and have relocated their whole lives to Ross-on-Wye from other parts of the country as a direct result of reading about the area on Wyenot.com and there must be many more out there who have done so but just have not told me. Just those eight houses must have cost well in excess of £1million.

Every year since its beginning, this web site has attracted tens of thousands of tourists to the immediate area, every one of them shopping in local shops, eating in local restaurants and many staying over night in local guest houses, hotels, camp sites, you name it.

Every day of the year, even during the winter months, thousands of people read the pages on Wyenot. Wyenot has become one of the most successful local community web sites in the whole world. If you just type the two words, 'photographic tour' into Google, Wyenot.com comes up on the front page, usually in the number one position!

Most local schools, colleges, libraries, even the BBC use Wyenot as a source of reference. Ex-pats and local people alike read Wyenot News every week. The local readership is expanding fast with the computer becoming more and more a part of every home and this increase in readership is speeding up with every year that goes by.

The very second I upload the weekly Wyenot News, the web server takes a pounding. I can see it happening. People all around the world sit by their computers waiting for the moment the weekly update goes on-line. Sometimes I sit there watching the server log for a moment and it just astounds me. I think; 'was it really something that I did that all those people were waiting for'.


Why I need help

All of the above is great - the web site has achieved my original goal beyond any shadow of a doubt. The trouble is that, although Wyenot.com is now being supported by advertisers and that support is now growing rapidly, for years it was not and I have all the personal money I put into maintaining the site to catch up with.

2006 Wyenot takings:

If you look at the list of supporters at the bottom of this page there are 79 of them. Each one of those businesses has paid £45 per per year for having a very successful page on Wyenot and this year, that has brought in £3,555 towards the maintenance of Wyenot.com and Wyenot News.

That £3,555, when it all comes in - some has not yet - is the sum total of all 'takings' to help towards every aspect of the maintenance of this web site!

It sometimes seems to me as if, for some businesses, somebody only has to fart in the office and the company will be given a National Lottery grant to install an extractor fan. Wyenot.com has never been that lucky. In six years, Wyenot.com has never received a single penny by way of a grant from anywhere whatsoever.

Over the past six years, three kind local people have voluntarily donated a total of £320 - without my asking - absolutely voluntarily, asking nothing in return. The money was given towards maintaining Wyenot, purely because these people enjoy reading it. £300 of that money was donated this year, bringing the total takings for Wyenot to £3,855.

On top of that, I may have sold as much as £100 worth of prints, maximum from the web site. This brings this years takings up to £3,955 maximum.

That is literally, all the money I have had in from every single aspect of maintaining this whole web site this year, £3,955!

I do also have a separate income, from the newspapers for use of my photography which appears in the Ross Gazette and the Hereford Journal plus prints sold by the newspapers. This brings my gross income figure for this year to £6,000 ish.

Last year I submitted a £7,000 loss on my tax return. This year that loss will not be quite as big but nonetheless, I will not be going out and buying a luxury yacht.

2006 Wyenot Outgoings:

Out of the £3,955 income mentioned above, I have paid renewal fees for the domain name, rented web space and paid for bandwidth, for which which I have a constant battle against thieves, most of them pulling my photographs from my rented web space, using my bandwidth for use on their personal pages of the 'myspace' and other similar web sites. This is why I have recently made them downloadable - in the hope that the bandwidth theft will stop.

Many people think I actually work for the Ross Gazette and that I am being paid a salary by them. I am not - never have done and never will. This web site has no connection whatsoever with the Ross Gazette other than that the editor, Christine and I are friends. I do not even have a contract with them to take photographs. Although a high percentage of photographs printed in that newspaper are taken by me, after travel expenses - cost of equipment to take them, I probably make about one or two pounds from each photo printed. And nothing for the editorial supplied.

I am not a wealthy photographer by any means. The newspaper photography happened by accident on my part. It came about through my taking photos, initially with a cheap and next to useless camera for Wyenot.com which the papers started asking for. I bought the good, expensive camera equipment I have now, probably £5000 worth much later, to bring in a little newspaper photography business but mainly for the benefit of Wyenot. Photography is not my hobby, it is a means to an end and in six years I have only taken a couple of hundred personal photos with any of it.

Another huge outgoing (compared with takings) for me is petrol. On average, I have been spending £50 per week just travelling between various venues to take photos of events and other news items. When you think that on the average week, I make £70 or £80 from selling photos to the Ross Gazette, that's a sizeable chunk of what I earn. If one new advertiser came on board every week at the current advertising rate, that would not even cover the cost of my petrol outgoings.

Expenditure on computer equipment to keep the web site going has been vast! Just last Sunday, the main Wyenot News computer died suddenly. In the old days, I would have built a new one myself but with all the work I have on maintaining Wyenot in its current state, I do not have the time to do that so I had to buy a replacement, there and then That cost me £600. A week prior to that, the clutch went on my car, which I need to travel between photographs. That cost £280 to put right. My camera flash unit recently died suddenly. That cost me £300 to replace. The video camera I use for Wyenot has just died suddenly, two days ago. I cannot afford to replace that at the moment.

The reality of keeping Wyenot going and why I need serious help, very quickly:

I would be financially better off if I shut Wyenot down and did nothing. At least then I could claim benefit. In my entire life I have only ever been able to claim unemployment benefit once - for six months and as far as I know, I cannot claim any low income benefits because I own a house which I don't live in. The fact that the rest of my family live there because I love them all and they rely on me providing for them is irrelevant as far as the Government is concerned. If I stopped maintaining Wyenot and then got a part time job on minimum wage, I would be laughing. I would even get holidays and perhaps weekends off.

Why have I not done that? Because too many people have come to rely on my coverage of local events and news stories both here and in the newspapers. Nobody else would spend so much time doing it for so little in return!

On top of all of the above you see, I have to live myself. When I started planning the web site in May 2000, my personal bank account was something like £13,000 in credit because I had just left a well paid job, which I thought was secure for life. After 30 years however it turned out not to be. Something for which I am extremely thankful because for the last 10 I absolutely hated it. It was like going to prison daily. I love what I now do to replace it.

Over the six years of maintaining Wyenot and having to eat at the same time, my personal bank accounts have gone from £13,000 in credit to a total of £20,000 overdrawn plus mortgage on the house I don't live in. Tina is working 14 hour shifts to contribute towards our living while I keep the site going. I work, usually from 9:00 am until midnight, every day of the week, 365 days per year (yes, I even take photos of events on Christmas Day) to keep Wyenot.com and Wyenot News going because I cannot afford to pay for help and because believe it or believe it not, I still see a bright future if I can just survive and keep it going a little longer while support increases.

I may have to increase the cost of advertising very soon but many of those who use the service tell me that I don't charge anywhere nearly enough anyway. The reason I made it so cheap to advertise was for the benefit of Ross-on-Wye. I am well aware that the pages on this site are worth much more than the £45 currently charged but 'internet advertising' was given a very bad name locally a year after I started Wyenot by somebody else who was just out to make money without providing the service people were paying for. This is why I never go out selling myself door to door. I deliberately wait for local people to discover Wyenot in the same way that the rest of the world does - through its content and reputation.

Unfortunately, having waited so long I am now at the absolute end of my personal means of supporting the web site which is bringing so much business to everybody else and need to worry very seriously about supporting my own family. I could go to the bank I suppose but that would only end up making matters worse. The interest on the current overdraft is already crippling and if I increased it . . .

In two weeks time it will be Christmas but I am at the absolute limit of my means. Both general living and keeping Wyenot News afloat are making restful sleep a distant memory. Buying food just to get by is currently a serious problem and Christmas stuff is just way out of the equation. Last year I joked about having Spam for Christmas lunch. This year, if it was not for the fact that I can't stand the taste of it, I probably would. Luckily I have very understanding children, who are too old to believe in Father Christmas.

What can I do to keep Wyenot Working for everybody?

I just don't know. The answer certainly has not come to me during the sleepless nights. I think I can say that I am pretty good at singlehandedly designing, building and maintaining the web site which has brought more business to Ross-on-Wye than all the International Festivals and Local Tourism Committees and Organizations put together and doubled. But at financing it, I have proved to myself that I am worse than useless!

Is there anybody out there who can help financially in any way?

If not, in the New Year I am afraid that I am going to seriously think about looking for another job and regretfully stopping maintaining Wyenot.com and supplying photos to the local press. If it comes to this, I have already paid this years web server rental so I will just leave the web site running in its current state of update for a year, until the £45 received from the latest supporter expires, then I will pull the plug entirely and write off the past six years of my life to experience. I have no choice other than to consider this option, to pay off the resulting overdraft before I design St.Peter.com.

I may come over as happy and cheerful about the web site when I see you in person because I am not very good at visibly showing emotion. In reality though, I am getting ill through working 15 plus hours per day with no rest, seven days per week, all year round. It's not the work that is killing me - I am happy to do that, though I do often get very tired. It is the constant personal financial worry while Tina and I sustain the whole of Wyenot.com and our two families on one and a half less than average incomes that l can no longer cope with.

There is not a day goes by when somebody does not ask me for something and it's always something for nothing. ''Can I have a copy of that photo you took to publicize our charity? We can't pay you but we will obviously credit you. . .' I have always found it difficult saying, 'no' to anybody.

I have never asked for financial help with this web site before from anybody other than my parents, when Mum was alive but now I feel I have no choice but to do that.

This is my one final attempt to keep the wolf from the door and keep Wyenot going! I am not greedy. If I were wealthy enough, I would make every service on Wyenot available free of charge for everybody but unfortunately, I am not.

Please. Are you or your organization able to help in any way by making a donation towards helping Wyenot.com and its future? It does not matter how much. If just a small percentage of all those who use this web site regularly were to contribute a small amount, it would help hugely towards getting me over this extremely tricky stage in the development of a business, which in turn is boosting the local economy as a whole. By helping you would be helping everybody, from the small one man shop or pub to the big local supermarkets and hotels.

I know that it is not good business practice to announce how much the person running that business is struggling. The usual method of expanding is to act big, buy a posh car, wear a business suit, go to the right church/golf club and look prosperous.

Sorry, I am not like that. What you see is what you get with me. A woolly hat, hoodie, clapped out old car and an admission that I am currently up Shit Creek without a paddle... ...Oh! And a damned good web site to prove it!

I would of course mention anybody who helps, unless that is not what they want and any business sponsorship would be repaid by prominent advertising on relevant pages of Wyenot.com or/and Wyenot News.

Thank you for taking the time to read this plea for help! The rest of this week's news can be seen on the following pages.

Alan Wood

1, Hillview Road,
Ross-on-Wye
Herefordshire
HR9 7EY

Email: alan_wood at wyenot.com (replace at with @ and close the gaps)

Tel: 01989 763217



Important: This is just not the usual 'click to get it out of the way' thing.
[Please read these terms and conditions before using any Wyenot News photograph]

They must not be ignored!

Ordering Prints


If you would like to order prints from Wyenot News photographs, please click here.

Prints are only available for photographs taken by Wyenot News (Not of those which have been sent in by readers).

Prints of 'people' photographs are only available to those directly involved in the news event covered. i.e. I do not sell prints of people to the general public.



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DO YOU HAVE A STORY FOR WYENOT NEWS?

If you have a local news item or story of local interest which you would like to appear on Wyenot News you are very welcome to submit it by email, telephone or by post.

Please advise as early as possible if you would like me to photograph your local event so that I can put it in my diary. This service is offered strictly on a first come, first served basis.

Many Wyenot News photographs appear in various local newspapers and magazines. This does not imply that Wyenot News or any other part of this web site belongs to those publications. Wyenot News is a totally independent news magazine.

Contacting Wyenot News:

Email: please click here.

Telephone: 01989 763217 - Mobile: 0779 683 4077

Postal address: Wyenot News, 1, Hillview Road, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire. HR9 7EY

Although it is fine to submit if you are submitting an event taking place in a pub / shop / restaurant etc., please make sure that your story does have real news value and is not simply an advertisement for your business. It would be unfair to those who support Wyenot.com and Wyenot News by advertising to publish blatant advertisements disguised as editorial material.



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WYENOT.COM WOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE WITHOUT THESE SPONSORS

Many local businesses support Wyenot.com by advertising.

If you would like to join these supporters, please email or telephone: 01989 763217.


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Editorials by email or to: 'Wyenot.com,' 1, Hillview Road, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 7EY. Tel: 01989 763217

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