Newspaper veteran Sir Ray Tindle has issued a rallying call for local newspapers at the 150th anniversary celebration of the South London Press.

Sir Ray, the 88-year-old chairman of Tindle Newspapers Ltd, said democracy demanded that local newspapers survived.

"Local communities want their own local newspaper," Sir Ray told a celebration lunch on HMS Belfast in London attended by the Countess of Wessex and Culture Secretary John Whittingdale.

"And local communities will always have their own local newspaper - local democracy demands it.

"Only a few days ago the chief of the biggest advertising agency in the country, Sir Martin Sorrell, said recent research had shown that readers were more likely to retain information gained from newspapers than information conveyed in other forms.

"This is one more good reason to be sure newspapers have a long future ahead."

Sir Ray said there had been many difficult years for local newspapers, but announced to cheers that the South London Press had gone back into profit last week.

The Countess paid tribute to the role local newspapers played in communities and Whittingdale said the government would be looking at a range of ways to support the local press.

Tindle Newspapers publishes 200 local newspapers, including the South London Press titles.