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Veteran Express reporter scoops Kent title

Veteran Kentish Express reporter Mike Bennett and BBC Radio Kent Breakfast Show presenter John Warnett scooped top honours in the 17th annual Shepherd Neame Kent Journalist of the Year Awards.

Mike Bennett, who joined the Ashford-based Express more than 40 years ago as a cub reporter and who is now the paper’s chief reporter, was voted 2004 Shepherd Neame Kent Journalist of the Year.

Presenter John Warnett won the broadcast category of the award, winning praise for his incisive interviews.

The judges praised Mike’s versatility and his “fresh, bright and engaging” copy, describing him “a first class all-rounder”.

Amy Woodland, chief reporter on the Hythe edition of the Folkestone Herald, was judged Shepherd Neame Kent Young Journalist of the Year.

A successful battle to prevent the closure of Ripple School – Kent’s smallest community school with just 27 pupils – earned the East Kent Mercury and reporter Sarah Linney the Kent Campaign of the Year award.

Jez Durrant, sports editor on the Kent & Sussex Courier took the honours as the Spitfire Kent Sports Journalist of the Year.

The panel of judges comprised former Daily Telegraph editor WF Deedes, Jonathan Holborow, editor of the Mail on Sunday from 1992 to 1998, broadcaster Bob Holness and Justin Allen, Shepherd Neame Young Journalist of the Year in 1997 and now on the sports desk at The Sun and News of the World.

Below is a full list of print journalism awards:

Journalist of the Year
Mike Bennett, Kentish Express

Highly Commended
Stephen Hedges, Kent Messenger
Simon Finlay, Folkestone Herald

Kent Campaign of the Year
Sarah Linney, East Kent Mercury

Highly Commended
Nigel Thompson, BBC South East Today

Kent Young Journalist of the Year
Amy Woodland, Folkestone Herald

Highly Commended
Jon Kaila, Gravesend Messenger
Simon Alford, Kentish Express
Ed Cook, KM fm

Spitfire Sports Journalist of the Year
Jez Durrant, Kent & Sussex Courier

Highly Commended
Jason Kayley, Kent Messenger Group
Neil Bell, BBC South East

‘Wild Card’ Award
Melody Ryall, Kentish Times, for her weekly column The Flip Side