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Campaign on RAF base helps paper win prizes

A weekly newspaper has scooped three top prizes at the Highlands and Islands Media Awards on the back of a major ongoing campaign to prevent the closure of an RAF base.

The Northern Scot took the Newspaper of the Year prize while its deputy editor Chris Saunderson was named the Journalist of the Year and also won Best Story of the Year at the annual awards held on Friday evening.

Its success was helped by the paper’s People’s Campaign which was launched last year against the possible closure of RAF Lossiemouth under the government’s defence cuts and saw a petition signed by 31,000 people taken to Downing Street.

Prizes were presented to winners of the awards by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

For winning the Journalist of the Year award, Chris’ prize was £500, £300 of which goes to a charity of his choice, as well as a bottle of the Classic Malt and a certificate.

Gordon Fyfe, chairman of the Highland and Islands Media Awards’ judging panel, said Chris was the unanimous choice of all the judges.

He said: “He excelled by taking on almost all of the coverage of his paper’s biggest story for years involving the closure of RAF Kinloss and the threat to the future of RAF Lossiemouth, providing a detailed, clear and informed insight into the complexities of the many issues involved.”

And The Barron Trophy was presented to recognise the lifetime achievement in journalism of Harry McLaggan who retired last year after around 40 years reporting for DC Thomson newspapers.

Also praised at the ceremony was monthly newspaper Am Paipear, which serves the southern islands of the Western Isles and scooped the Community Newspaper of the Year for the second year in a row.

The full list of winners is:

The Barron Trophy
Harry McLaggan

Bord na Gaidhlig Awards for Best Gaelic Entry
Iain Morrison, BBC ALBA

Best Use of Journalism on the Web
Carrbridge News

Photographer of the Year
Gary Anthony, Scottish Provincial Press

Best photograph of the Year
Trevor Martin, Freelance, Inverness

Young Journalist of the Year: The Alex Main Trophy
Sarah Manning, Moray Firth Radio

Sports Reporter of the Year
Iain Auld, Moray Firth Radio

Reporter of the Year: The Jim Love Memorial Trophy
Claire Doughty, Highland News

Best Story of the Year
Chris Saunderson, The Northern Scot

Feature Writer of the Year
Hector Mackenzie, Ross-shire Journal

Community Newspaper of the Year
Am Paipear

Newspaper of the Year
The Northern Scot

The Classic Malts Journalist of the Year
Chris Saunderson, The Northern Scot