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Commuter Herald wins Free Newspaper of the Year gong

A weekly paper for commuters, launched by The Bucks Herald less than a year ago, has won a top award.

The Aylesbury Commuter Herald was named Free Newspaper of the Year at the Johnston Press editorial conference and awards.

A panel of judges, headed by Johnston chief operating officer Danny Cammiade, said they were impressed with the concept of the paper which was aimed at a commuter market which the current paid-for title did not reach easily.

It was launched last June and is given away free to train passengers using the Aylesbury to Marylebone line every Thursday.

The Portsmouth News was named Daily Newspaper of the Year at the ceremony at Birmingham.

Judges said the paper was “passionate about its city and community”.

They added: “Just as importantly, it not only identifies local issues it solves them as well.”

The Leamington Courier was named Weekly Newspaper of the Year, being praised for being “a high quality read”.

It was also praised for being excellently designed and having good engagement with its readers through regular comment opportunities and other interactivity.

The Worksop Guardian won the Best Weekly Newspaper Sales Performance Award, having recorded a four per cent sales increase on the previous year.

The best performing daily title went to the Shields Gazette.

Trainee journalist of the year was Chris Robinson from the Shields Gazette.

The judges commented that Chris was chosen not just because of his achievements – but because of his willingness to get involved with the community he works in.

He broke the story about a councillor who claimed the highest attendance allowances, despite having the worst attendance record at meetings – forcing the councillor to resign in disgrace.

He also gained the trust of a family who had had to flee their home in Peru because of death threats and make their story public. And when his paper ran a story about a little girl with an incurable skin condition he put on his running shoes and completed the Great North Run to raise money for her.

The winner of the News Story of the Year award was the Yorkshire Post for the way it broke the story of how the one of the killers of WPC Sharon Beshenivsky escaped justice by fleeing the country dressed as a woman, using his sister’s passport and hiding behind a veil.

An award for total audience – combining ABC performance with unique users to the website – was handed out for the first time.

The daily award was won by the Lancashire Evening Post which has pioneered the group’s digital newsroom project.

The weekly award went to the Newmarket Journal.