FIRST of all a word of thanks to all those who sent messages of goodwill and support yesterday after it was announced that I was standing down as editor of The National and the Sunday Herald. You made a difficult day a lot easier to get through.

But then I’ve had many amazing days at work, particularly since May 2014 when the Sunday Herald declared itself in favour of Scotland regaining its independence.

I’ll always remember and be grateful for the warmth of our readers’ response and the enthusiasm of your support.

The subsequent launch of The National last November was one of the most exciting periods of my career so far. I’m extremely conscious of the responsibility of editing the only daily newspaper in Scotland that supports independence, and I hope my efforts have at least partly lived up to expectations.

So my own words of thanks start with gratitude to those readers who pushed the Sunday Herald to remarkable circulation figures and who welcomed The National into their lives with open arms and a keen but thankfully often critical interest. You have been an inspiration.

And my thanks also to staff, collaborators, contributors and columnists, who have been unfailingly supportive and have produced journalism of the highest quality.

I’ve loved editing both newspapers and I hope you’ll allow me a sense of pride in what we have achieved over the years.

So if I love it so much why am I standing down? Well, it’s not to retire, or put my feet up. It’s not to “leave the battlefield” as one message I received put it.

For a start, I’m not cutting ties with The National entirely. I’m continuing my relationship with the newspaper as a consulting editor.

I’m not giving up on the argument for independence, even if I haven’t quite worked out how best to contribute to it.

And I’m not ready to give up journalism entirely.

But I feel my present job at the Sunday Herald and The National has come to a natural end. Both papers are in a strong position. Support for Scottish independence is in their DNA. That will not change. Both have talented and dedicated staff. Both will easily go on without me, and indeed will benefit from new hands at the helm.

For me, it’s time for a new challenge, even if right now I have not a clue what that might be. All I know is that my time at the Sunday Herald and, latterly The National, has been an absolute blast, but it’s best not to hang around when your time is up.