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Weekly reporter lands rare NCE prize double

A reporter on a South-West weekly has achieved the rare accolade of winning two of the four individual prizes in the latest National Certificate Examinations.

Kimberly Middleton, of the Truro-based West Briton, has been named as the outstanding candidate in both the News Report and Logbook categories.

The winner of the Newspaper Practice exam was Mary Hamilton, a reporter from the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, who achieved a score of 90pc, while the prize for news interview went to Stephanie Steward of the Tameside Reporter.

They are among 74 trainee reporters who have now achieved senior status from the National Council for the Training of Journalists following the July exams.

Each winner will be given £250 from their award sponsors, with Kimberly given prize funds from Newsquest for the top Logbook and Esso for the News Report exam.

She told HTFP: “I was pretty shocked. I was just really, really happy that I had passed all four exams because I had been working at them for so long.

“I was over the moon to have passed them in the morning then when I got the email saying about the prizes, I couldn’t believe it, especially to have two.

“I got emails from men in management I never thought I would hear from, which is really good. Everyone has been so supportive.”

The examiner praised Kimberly’s news report as being a strong, well-written story with a good level of details, while her logbook was said to be ‘impressive’.

Kimberly has been working at Northcliffe’s West Briton since May last year and before that had spent time at sister paper the Cornish Guardian.

She graduated from a multi-media journalism degree at Bournemouth University in 2007, during which she completed the NCTJ preliminary training, and the July exams were the first time she had sat the NCE.

Meanwhile, Mary managed to secured the highest marks in many years for the Newspaper Practice exam at 90pc, achieving the Ted Bottomley Award, sponsored by Midland News Association.

She completed her preliminary training at the Press Association in Newcastle and last year won the NCTJ Student Journalist of the Year Award.

Mary said: “I thought I had done well, but wasn’t sure how well. It felt like it was probably my strongest exam on what was a stressful day. I was very surprised when I saw that I’d got 90pc though.”

The chief examiner said she produced a ‘textbook example’ of how to tackle the Newspaper Practice paper.

He said: “It is clear that she is already putting into practice the skills that the newspaper practice paper looks for. It was one of the highest newspaper practice scores in recent years and a very impressive performance.”

The Society of Editor’s Award for the best marks in the News Interview went to Stephanie who was praised for a comprehensive account of what happened.

“Stephanie’s logical interviewing technique laid the foundation for well-structured, evocative copy,” the examiner said. “In particular, the balance of quotes and reported speech worked well.”

She completed her preliminary NCTJ course at Sheffield College.