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News in brief

Former journalist Val McFarlane (née Cowan) has been appointed corporate communications manager for South Gloucestershire Council.
Val worked on a number of newspapers, including the Dumfries and Galloway Standard, The Gazette, Blackpool, and the Lancashire Evening Telegraph, before moving into public relations five years ago. A member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, she held PR posts at Edge Hill College of Higher Education and Wyre Borough Council before moving to South Gloucestershire.

Leading broadcast journalist Alex Thomson is to host Northern Ireland’s top media awards tomorrow.
Alex, from Channel 4 News, will compere the Chartered Institute of Public Relations/BT Press and Broadcast Awards for Northern Ireland at the Europa Hotel in Belfast.

Three trainee reporters from Archant Anglia have received their NVQ level 4 in Newspaper Journalism (Writing).
Nicola Bastendorff, of the Saffron Walden Reporter, Lisa Horton, of the Norwich Evening News and Victoria Nicholls, of the Waveney/Gorleston and Yarmouth Advertisers, have all been presented with their certificates.

The Bournemouth Echo has signed Scottish football international Warren Cummings – a star at AFC Bournemouth – as a columnist for the rest of the season.
He is currently recovering from a broken leg and is to chart the team’s progress in its push for a play-off place.

A fight to save Dartmoor’s famous pure-bred ponies from extinction is being led by the Western Morning News.
Less than 500 are left, making them rarer than the giant panda. The newspaper wants readers to donate around £50,000 a year towards an annual programme of education and a breeding scheme.

The Lancashire Evening Post’s appeal to mark the 20th anniversary of a local hospice has brought in £27,000 in just six weeks.
Its Love Jeanette Appeal has set a target of £200,000.