The Independent's readers: The paper's biggest asset

Meet the readers who share our values

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Bryony Tedder 25 (today!)

Bid writer for a social enterprise, London

My family still has a copy of the very first edition of The Independent – because I was born on the same day. They even made an announcement in the "Births, Deaths and Marriages" section, 11 days later. I grew up in Essex and newspapers have always been an integral part of our family and my parents encouraged me to read them. We had various ones in the house and we would always fight over the different sections of the paper, which I think is an important and typical family event. I had to get in there quickly unless I wanted to be left with sports. I've always enjoyed the arts section but as I've grown up I've become more political and I think The Independent is fantastic for foreign news and is one of the few papers that is genuinely interested in the rest of the world. I have an intellectual crush on Robert Fisk, I must say. I have all of his books – he's amazing. My parents often buy me a copy of the paper on my birthday and I feel a certain degree of identification with The Independent. I'm pleased to see that it's still going in these troubled times and that it has reached its 25th birthday along with me.

Mandy Ross, 41

Lecturer and doctoral student, London

I started reading the paper when I went to university as a mature student at the age of 32. I thought it would be a good idea to start buying a broadsheet to keep me informed and it turned out to be one of the best things I ever did. I knew there was a big world out there but I had quite a narrow view of it, I suppose. But by reading a paper and being a student, I began to really discover it and, even more than that, understand it.

Tony Wood, 71

Steam railway volunteer, Farnborough, Hampshire

I started reading The Independent more or less right from the offset because the journalists I followed all got jobs at the paper. As soon as I started to read, it seemed to fit with me because of the way I see the world. I don't mind differing views but I like the fact that it doesn't overtly support one political party; all sides of the argument are given. There are things I agree with and some I don't, which for me is the ideal newspaper. I'm glad to see you're still hanging in there.

Phil Skelton, 42

Project manager for Transport for London, Twickenham

I was 17 when The Independent started but I didn't start buying it until I moved up to London from Cornwall to attend college in 1989. I remember our politics lecturer telling us that we had to start buying a paper to keep up with what was going on in the world. I can't remember why but I picked up The Independent at the news agent. I've never changed papers. I encourage my daughter to read it, too, which she does. I try to instil in her that all this knowledge is there if she wants it.

Jamie Scott, 23

Law student, Birmingham

I started reading The Independent in 2005 when I went to study at Cambridge, but I do shop around and will buy a paper based on the front-page story. I find myself often persuaded to buy The Independent because it continues to cover unconventional and otherwise ignored stories on its front pages. In the age of rolling news, people often know the stories as they happen and it's important to do what The Independent does, which is to analyse the events and put them into context.

Bert Kennedy, 61

Former policeman (and original cover star), Newport, Isle of Wight

I was working on the firearms team on the Isle of Wight when The Independent launched.

The Conservative Party Conference was taking place in Bournemouth and I was sent over as added security because it was two years since the Grand Hotel bombings in Brighton by the IRA, which killed five people.

I was put on the conference centre roof as a sniper; I even had to learn to abseil for the job. It was unexpected to wake up and be on the front cover of the paper. We were told not to hide from the photographers and to make our presence known, so management was happy for me to be on the cover.

Sadly, I had to resign from the police force in 2002 for health reasons, and now I volunteer at a day centre for the disabled. The only killing machine I use these days is a fishing rod.

I still buy The Independent. While I think it's a great paper, I also feel affectionate about it, and sort of look on it as part of the family, as I've been with it since the beginning.

Edward Merriman, 19

Student, Blackburn, Lancashire

I began reading The Independent about a year ago when I started at university. I like the paper because it covers the news but there's also those reflective thoughts and commentary which other papers don't have in as much detail. Because I'm studying history and politics, it's nice to get stimulated and start asking questions and understanding more than the face value of things. It's academic and you can really learn something. I love reading Simon Carr, he always has an amusing comment to make.

Vija Vilcins, 59

Course manager, south London

I have been reading The Independent since it first came out. I was on the look out for something that gave me a more balanced, solid view compared with the newspaper that I was reading at the time, and The Independent seemed to fit the bill. I have been with it ever since. There's plenty that I love about it, but I have to say that I adore Johann Hari and wept when I read the last piece he wrote. I think he is a tremendous writer and I look forward to his return.

Nick Gallie, 66

Greenpeace consultant, East Sussex

I worked in advertising when The Independent was launched with a very interesting campaign: "It is. Are you?" That attracted me to it, I liked the proposition. I was one of the first people to write in to the letter pages. Although I don't recall what it was about exactly, it would have been in relation to my work with Greenpeace. I'm still very active in campaigning now. I think it's tremendously important that there is independent media.

Jonathan Wall, 37

Chartered surveyor, Wandsworth, London

I started reading it when I was about 15. There were four papers in my school library and I used to go in and read The Independent for the sports coverage. I continued to read it, became interested in the other sections, and fell in love with the paper. It's been a long-time companion. I bought an item in the 2007 Christmas charity auction and went to a Sigur Rós gig and had my review published. I really like the Arts & Books section and enjoy Andy Gill's reviews. He's introduced me to a lot of music.

Rhianna Humphrey, 23

Postgraduate student, Cardiff

The Independent is sometimes kicking about the student union but I tend to read it more online. I like the idea of it, I like that it doesn't have a political bias. It's not part of some big media empire and it tends to have unbiased views – which I think is exciting and unique in the British media. I like the politics and really enjoy the arts section as well. I don't always have time to sit down and read a whole paper, but it's important to have a flick through, see what the headlines are, and take a look at some of the commentary.

Bill & Catherine Guest, 70 & 73

Retired, Peckham, London

B: I was working in the Foreign Office and I remember the initial adverts that came out about a new paper that was independent, which I thought sounded like a good idea. We've always admired the paper's anti-war stance, particularly on the Iraq war.

C: I had just started work in a magistrates' court in London when it first came out and I used to pick it up on my way to work. I was attracted by the fact there was to be little coverage of the royals. I thought: "That sounds like an intelligent paper."

Cherie Lindsey, 27

Social work student, Glasgow

I started to read it a couple of years ago after people kept recommending me various pieces from the paper and sending links to stories online. Because I got sent so many really interesting pieces, I thought I might as well give the whole thing a read. Now I have The Independent app on my mobile phone, which I use, and I also often read it online. Occasionally I'll pick up a print copy of the paper as well. But I tend to pick through it online and usually click on the editor's picks, too.

Baroness Hamwee, 64

Liberal Democrat politician and Life Peer

I've stuck with The Independent since day one. I remember buying it from a newsstand on the first day it was published. I was quite excited at the prospect of an independent paper, which is not surprising for someone who is a liberal politician. I thought it was an important addition. I always read Howard Jacobson and Simon Carr is very good: I sometimes think he's absolutely spot on and it hurts. Once I succeeded in completing the Saturday super sudoku. It was a wonderful moment.

Tamanna H,17

A-level student, Manchester

We don't get a newspaper at home but they have them at school and I usually go for The Independent, especially on a Monday because I like the fashion pages. I want to study dentistry at university so I try to keep up to date with medical news and I'll have a look at the health section on a Tuesday. I find it more informative than some of the other papers – I've tried them but I don't like them as much. Part of it is the way it looks; I know it might not be a huge factor but I really like the design.

Kirstie-Lynne Deegan, 19

Politics student, Manchester

I know it sounds stupid but because I'm a student, I buy The Independent when I can afford it. As a politics student we have been encouraged to read a good paper. I like the way it's written and it has definitely helped with my course. Recently, we had to write an essay on whether or not Britain should get involved with Libya and I read a huge amount of the coverage in The Independent to help with my understanding of the situation. I got one of the best grades I've had in my course so far.

Philip Hedley CBE, 73

Director Emeritus Theatre Royal Stratford East, London

Often I'll find that something is playing on my mind and then, lo and behold, The Independent picks up on it. I rely on the paper to take up moral public issues. It has a great sense of right and wrong, and it's fantastic there is a paper that takes these issues up with the will and enthusiasm that The Independent does. I've been reading it ever since the first issue – I even had a letter published in the third issue, speaking out against sponsorship in the theatre.

Hilary Cousins, 25 (today!)

Teacher, Southampton

My Dad tells me every year on my birthday that I was born on the same day as The Independent. He always jokes that one day there will be a question in a quiz about the year the paper started and I'll know the answer. We still have a copy of the first edition as well as those published on some milestone birthdays, like 10, 15 and 21. It was around the house when I was a child and I still buy it; it's really well balanced and informative. I definitely have a soft spot for it.

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