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Reporters gain recognition at region’s awards

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.

Winners of the Shepherd Neame Kent Media Awards

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



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  • January 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Well done to everyone who was awarded a gong, particularly Mike Sims and Eleanor Jones from the Herald who really deserve theirs. And well done to Roger Kasper and his team at our Northcliffe stablemate, the Sevenoaks Chronicle, for their prize. Many thanks to the people at Shepherd Neame for their hospitality, too.

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  • January 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    And all washed down with some of Shepherd Neame’s top brews, no doubt. Beer and journos are made for each other. Just reading it has made me thirsty…

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  • February 8, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Well done the Folkestone Herald. Great to see it has bounced back from the criticism last year over the story about the lightbulb that was left on in a public loo for a decade.

    That was bog standard local paper news gathering and the flack was a complete over-reaction.

    Following it up with a story about a pasty sold to a young mum that was three days out-of-date may have been a misjudgement and was manna from Heaven to the critics.

    But the Herald is one of the best in the business and to pick up two awards in a year shows it is a truly great local rag.

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  • February 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    As a Folkestone Herald reader, I would like to congratulate Mike Sims for his fine work over the past year. A well deserved award. Editor Simon Finlay has always been one hell of a talent spotter – with the likes of his protege Paul McMullan going on to enjoy a long career in Fleet Street. Let’s just hope Mike can measure up to Paul’s standards.

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  • February 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Also, let’s not forget the Whitstable Times – another of Simon’s stablesmates – that has earned another mention on Jon Slattery’s excellent blog about our fine industry (here’s the link:

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