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Political editor named county's top journalist

The KM Group’s political editor Paul Francis was named journalist of the year for third time at an annual awards ceremony.

Judges at the Shepherd Neame Kent Journalist of the Year Awards described Paul, who also won best newspaper journalist, as “exhibiting integrity, bravery and a passion for the area he serves, working to the highest standards”.

It is the first time a reporter has been crowned Kent Journalist of the Year on three separate occasions in the award’s 22-year history.

He joined reporters from across the south-coast county at a prize giving ceremony at the sponsor’s brewery in Faversham.

Other winners included the News Shopper’s Daniel Keel, named feature journalist of the year, Glenn Garrett from the Courier Media Group, who picked up top sports writer, and BBC South East’s Robin Gibson, crowned broadcast journalist of the year.

The Gravesend and Dartford Messenger won the campaign prize for its Everyone Counts initiative, which raised £200,000 in two months to save a local hospice while veteran Kent Messenger journalist Ron Green received a lifetime achievement award.

Ron left the KM Group at the end of 2009 after 30 years with the company, during which time he was editor of the Kent Messenger twice.

This year’s judging panel included former BBC Radio Kent broadcaster Barbara Sturgeon, University of Kent journalism professor Tim Luckhurst and Justin Allen, from the sports desk of The Sun and News of the World.

Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame, said: “We have been sponsoring these awards for more than 20 years and we’re proud to be able to reward the achievements of Kent’s best journalists and the valuable news service they provide the county.

“It has been a tough time for media groups but we’re very encouraged by the dedication and quality of the entries we received.”

The award winners are:

Kent Journalist of the Year
Paul Francis, Kent Messenger

Newspaper Journalist of the Year
Winner: Paul Francis, Kent Messenger
Highly Commended Yamurai Zendera, Dover Express

Young Journalist of the Year
Winner: Katie Alston, Kentish Gazette
Highly Commended, Simon Tulett – Gravesend Messenger

Broadcast Journalist of the Year
Winner: Robin Gibson, BBC South East Today
Highly Commended: Ria Chatterjee, BBC South East Today

Feature Journalist of the Year
Winner: Daniel Keel, News Shopper

Sports Journalist of the Year
Winner: Glenn Garrett, Courier Media Group
Highly Commended: Jonathan Harvey, Courier Media Group

Campaign of the Year
Gravesend Messenger

News Service of the Year
News Shopper

Lifetime Achievement Award
Ron Green, Kent Messenger