A weekly press reporter has been awarded an MBE for services to regional journalism in the New Year Honours List.
Sheila Gow, left, has been with the Courier Media Group for over 30 years and currently works as a part-time news reporter with the East Grinstead Courier and Observer.
She told HTFP she felt a sense of “disbelief” when she heard the news.
“I don’t know who nominated me but I have one or two suspects,” said Sheila.
“It was a big shock and I thought ‘Why me?’. There must be hundreds of journalists who have done the same as me.”
As a qualified assessor, Sheila spent over a decade helping young trainee journalists at the company through their ‘senior’ qualifications – firstly the NVQ in newspaper writing and later the National Certificate Examination.
She has also covered some major stories including the devastating floods in Tunbridge Wells in 1968 and was also the first journalist at the scene of the train crash in Cowden which saw two train drivers among five people killed in 1994.
Sheila added that, despite being offered jobs on the national newspapers in London, she always put her two children and family first and stayed in her native Kent.
Courier and Observer editor Glenn Ebrey said: “This has come as a very pleasant surprise but is a richly-deserved honour. Sheila is a first-rate, traditional local journalist.
“Everyone knows her name and recognises her face. She is woven into the fabric of East Grinstead life.
“Sheila has also helped countless young journalists develop their careers and is a fantastic role model for any aspiring reporter.”
Also receiving an MBE for services to journalism is Belfast High Court reporter and former Belfast Telegraph staffer Ivan McMichael.
In a career spanning 50 years, Ivan has covered many major cases including the libel battle between boxing promoter Barney Eastwood and fighter Barry McGuigan and the appeal by Paul Hill, one of the four men released over the Guildford pub bombing.
Ivan said: “I have been thinking why me instead of colleagues who achieved so much more, and some of whom are household names.
“I have concluded that perhaps the award is recognition, even compensation, for having served the equivalent of several life sentences in the High Court – and me an innocent man.”
The 68-year-old started his career aged 16 with the Tyrone Constitution, in his native Omagh, and later worked for the Sunday Express as their Northern Ireland representative.
He chose to go freelance to cover magistrates and the High Court and saw his material was published worldwide.
retired (31/12/2009 10:45:29)
well done Sheila. A local reporter who knows her stuff and her patch. Sadly a disappearing breed in the new anything to fill journalism world but good on her.
Andrew Oxlade (04/01/2010 17:12:54)
I’d also like to add my congratulations. I also suspect young aspiring journalists would like to know your tips for longevity in this game(?)