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Love blossoms for journalism trainees

Romance blossomed for two couples who recently passed their senior reporter exams after first meeting on journalism training courses.

Fran Duckett-Pike, of The News, Portsmouth, and Jake Rusby of the Hemel Hempstead Gazette got together on an NCE refresher course run by Johnston Press.

The couple, pictured below, have both now gained senior journalist status.

Fran sat the NCE last month and was delighted to discover last week she had passed the National Council for the Training of Journalists exam. Jake passed the NCE in November.

Also successful were in the exam were Beth Henzell of the Sidmouth Herald and Dave Hemming of the Bridgwater Mercury.

They even sat next to eachother in the exam room because their names are so close alphabetically!

Jake recalled how he and Fran began chatting on the third day of the refresher course as they shared a taxi back to the train station.

“The next day I got an email from Fran and we have been seeing each other ever since, usually travelling to stay with the other at the weekend,” he said.

“We even attended another NCE refresher session together and we had to introduce ourselves to the session. I admitted Fran and I met each other at the last refresher which must have seemed quite strange to all the other reporters attending.

“If there was no such thing as the NCE we never would have met so I’m very grateful to the NCTJ for getting us together.”

Fran added: “When I met Jake I thought he was a really lovely and funny guy, there was an instant spark, so I knew we would see each other again.

“I know it sounds cheesy, but I really believe I have met my soul mate, all thanks to that course. We are now planning our future together, buying a house, kids – the lot!”

Beth and Dave meanwhile first got together at the NCTJ course in Darlington in 2008.

Dave was already working on the Bridgwater Mercury and with Beth hailing from Newcastle, the pair were facing the prospect of a long-distance relationship until a job on the Sidmouth Herald cropped up.

Said Beth: “In the last few weeks of the course I found there was a job going on the Sidmouth Herald which was quite handy because it was nearby. Luckily I got it and was able to move down.”

She said it was “really nice” to have Dave sitting next to her in the exam.

“I was so stressed out about it it was nice to have him there as a calming influence,” she told HTFP.


FAST WOMAN (19/04/2010 12:12:29)
As the old witch of the newroom, I always discouraged journalists from serious romantic involvement with each other. This is not because I thought they might get up to something on the editor’s big desk, but purely on financial grounds.
If one half of a partnership is in regional press, then the other needs to be doing properly paid work should it all leads to babies, houses and the like. Usually, one of them has to go to the dark side of PR.
Even so, I wish these happy couples good luck for the future.

Liz (19/04/2010 13:05:23)
Man alive, why on EARTH is this a story? Me and my partner also met doing prelims and passed our seniors together, and I know two other couples who did the same. It’s hardly unusual.

biter (19/04/2010 14:08:22)
LOL at this story.

Northern Snapper (19/04/2010 15:36:49)
I think it is good advice to avoid dipping your nib in the office ink.

FAST WOMAN (19/04/2010 16:17:18)
Having watched photographers going through the rapturous tribal rite of admiring each other’s enormous lenses, I’m surprised that Northern Snapper talks of nib dipping.
But what I actually returned to say is – terrible Red Eye in that pic of the loved up ones.

And now for something sexist (19/04/2010 16:39:03)
With all the comments on this story, people seem to be overlooking one thing – that bird is fit!!!!

Still hacking it (20/04/2010 15:55:31)
Congrats to both couples from two old hacks who married after meeting on an NCTJ course in Portsmouth 30 years ago. We are still both working on regional dailies, despite redundancy, babies, houses and the like, without either of us resorting to ‘the dark side’ of PR, or talking shop. It can be done on regional pay – just!

EH? (20/04/2010 16:25:02)
Pass me the sick bucket – mind you, Fran is a sort, eh lads?

Fencehopper (21/04/2010 14:07:49)
Punching above his weight. Good lad!

Paul Murphy (22/04/2010 11:11:11)
This must be heartbreaking for jake’s then girlfriend

Fencehopper (22/04/2010 17:16:45)
Can we get a saucer of milk over here please?

Goose (18/08/2010 13:51:26)
Weakening the gene pool I see

Fran Duckett-Pike (07/09/2010 10:05:13)
I’d just like to say to all of those cynics: Jake and I now have bought a flat, are living together (with a cat!) and are very happy. So thanks for your kind words! Neither of us have gone to the ‘dark side’ and are loving being journalists. Surely job and life happiness is what is important – not money! (Or none of us would be reporters)
From the lady with the very handsome boyfriend :-)

Paul Linford, Editor (07/09/2010 10:28:29)
Many thanks for the update Fran, and good luck!