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Best young talent honoured at annual awards

The year’s best young journalists and photographers were recognised at an annual awards ceremony last night.

The Awards for Excellence were presented by the National Council for the Training of Journalists at its Journalism Skills Conference in Nottingham.

Awards were handed out for the best trainees and students for news journalism, sports journalism, features, top scoop/exclusive and images, while prizes were also given for the top student and trainee of the year.

Four of the awards went to current or former students of the News Associates journalism training courses, based in London and Manchester.

The top prize of Reporter of the Year went to the Westmoreland Gazette’s Hannah Upton who passed the National Certificate Examination earlier this year with the highest marks in the country.

Describing herself as “completely in shock” at winning the award, Hannah said: “Despite the pain of exam day and the months of preparation beforehand, to me the NCE is a must.”

NCTJ chairman Kim Fletcher said: “These young people have demonstrated the hard work, determination and journalistic skills that make them deserving of their awards today and I’ve no doubt they will all go on to achieve great things in their careers.”

He added the judges had been “extremely impressed” by the quality of entries and commended all those who were shortlisted for the awards.

In a separate presentation, Johnston Press training guru David Rowell won the NCTJ Chairman’s Award to recognise his outstanding contribution to journalism training and education.

David, a former editor-in-chief at Northamptonshire Newspapers, is head of editorial learning and development at Johnston Press and also a member of the NCTJ Journalism Qualifications Board.

Chairman Kim Fletcher said: “In his current role as head of editorial learning and development for Johnston Press, David has led a team of editorial trainers for the last eight years, ensuring that all journalists joining the company are properly trained and qualified.

“He has been at the forefront of preparing Johnston Press journalists for the digital revolution that is transforming our industry.”

A new award for the best student publication was also presented to De Montfort University for its magazine “Royal Visit”, which chronicled the Queen’s visit to mark her Diamond Jubilee year.

The full list of Awards for Excellence winners is:

News Journalism

Student – Joe Cooper

Joe studied at Leeds Trinity University College and now works as a trainee reporter at the Dewsbury Reporter.

Judge Will Gore, deputy managing editor of the London Evening Standard, said: “His ability to uncover and produce really high quality human-interest stories absolutely stood out.

“He showed a genuine connection with the subjects of his stories, which clearly enabled him to obtain key material for his reports.”

Trainee – David Churchill

After traning at News Associates, David became a reporter at the Croydon Advertiser and judges commended his “hard-hitting, public interest stories”.

They said his ability to take good quality photographs to accompany his articles showed “the kind of multi-skilling so necessary among today’s reporters”.

Sports Journalism

Student – David Lyons

David recently completed an NCTJ-accredited course at Glasgow Caledonian University and is now a news and sports reporter for the Highland News in Aberdeen.

His entry featured an article about a European netball tournament in Glasgow, during which he seized the opportunity to interview the former President of Switzerland just months after she stepped down.

Speaking about his win, David said: “It’s a privilege. All the judges are people I really respect and to receive praise from people you hold in such high regard is an honour.”


Student – Jennifer Morris

Jennifer won the award for her “touching, unsentimental first person account” of coping with the death of a parent.

Judge Jayne Savva, features editor at Best Magazine, said: “Jennifer’s personality shone through and she managed to balance her cheeky irreverent style with enough poignancy to tug on the heartstrings”.

Since completing her NCTJ course at News Associates earlier this year, Jennifer has started work as a trainee reporter at the Surrey Herald.

Trainee – Hardeep Matharu

Hardeep also trained at News Associates and now works at the Epsom Guardian.  Stories from two of her newspaper’s campaigns won her the award.

The judges praised her for her “forward thinking attitude”, and said her stories on local issues were a “perfect example of why local papers matter”.

Top Scoop/Exclusive

Student – Adam Knight

Adam is a student at News Associates in London. Judge Graham Dudman, editorial development director at News International, said he produced a “cracking revelatory story” on sports betting.

Trainee – Dominic Shaw

Dominic is a trainee reporter at the Hartlepool Mail having trained at Teesside University. Judge Graham Dudman commended Dominic for securing the first interview with back-from-the-dead canoe conman John Darwin after his release from prison, calling it a “riveting read”.


Student – Joel Goodman

Trainee – Alex Cantrill-Jones

Joel, a  former Sheffield College student now working for the Manchester Evening News, and Derby Telegraph photographer Alex faced stiff competition in their categories but judges believed their images stood out as they were able to capture real feelings and emotions in their work.

Best Student Publication – De Montfort University

The university won for its Royal Visit magazine about a visit by the Queen.

Judges Dave King, head of news at Sussex Newspapers, and Joy Yates, editor at the Hartlepool Mail, described it as “simply stunning”, with well-written, interesting articles and great photographs.

They added that it was “a quality publication with a long shelf-life and coffee table appeal”.

Student Journalist of the Year – Christopher Hoy

Christopher, who recently completed an NCTJ-accredited MA at the University of Sunderland, passed all his NCTJ exams in the first sitting with A and B grades and achieved 100 wpm shorthand.

Since graduating, he has worked with Sky Tyne and Wear, and has had articles published in The Guardian, Sunderland Echo and the Evening Chronicle.

Reporter of the Year – Hannah Upton

Westmoreland Gazette reporter Hannah passed the National Certificate Examination earlier this year with the highest marks in the country.

She joined the paper as a trainee after completing the NCTJ-accredited course at the University of Central Lancashire.

Describing herself as “completely in shock” at winning the award, Hannah said: “Despite the pain of exam day and the months of preparation beforehand, to me the NCE is a must.

“I think the NCTJ’s training programme provides a solid foundation for a career in journalism.”