Three local newspaper journalists had their talents recognised at an annual awards ceremony held by Kent brewing company Shepherd Neame.
Winners of the Kent Media Awards included Alan Watkins from the Gravesend Messenger who took the award for best newspaper or online journalist of the year, and Mike Sims, a reporter at the Folkestone Herald who took the award for young journalist of the year.
Alan’s stories about a long-running row about a youth club, plus his recollections of notorious killer Fred West, were picked out for praise.
Medway Messenger reporter Dan Bloom won a commendation in the young journalist of the year category. The judges were particularly impressed with his story about 83-year-old George Gibbs, Britain’s oldest jobseeker, who went against advice from his doctor in his search for employment.
The Sevenoaks Chronicle won the Canterbury Jack Campaign of the Year Award for launching and running a local loyalty card initiative, encouraging shoppers to spend their money in the town. The on-going scheme is supported by more than 4,000 customers and 100 stores.
This year’s awards were judged by a panel including former BBC Radio Kent broadcaster Barbara Sturgeon; Kim Fletcher, former editorial director of the Telegraph Group and chairman of the NCTJ; Tim Luckhurst, professor of journalism at the University of Kent and a former editor of The Scotsman; and Justin Allen, from the sports desk of The Sun.
Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame, paid tribute to veteran broadcaster Bob Holness, a former judge on the Kent Media Awards, then known as the Kent Journalist of the Year Awards, who died early this year.
The full list of winners is as follows:
Shepherd Neame Kent Journalist of the Year – Julia George, BBC Radio Kent
Shepherd Neame News Service of the Year – BBC RadioKent
Kent’s Best Newspaper or Online Journalist of the Year – Alan Watkins, Gravesend Messenger
W F Deedes Kent Young Journalist of the Year – Mike Sims, Folkestone Herald
Bishops Finger Kent Broadcast Journalist of the Year – Julia George, BBC Radio Kent
Master Brew Kent Feature Journalist of the Year – Nashreen Issa, ITVMeridian
Spitfire Kent Sports Journalist of the Year – Neil Bell, BBC South East Today
Canterbury Jack Campaign of the Year – Sevenoaks Chronicle