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Builder turned journalist scoops EDF Energy awards double

A roofer and builder who went into journalism at the age of 29 has been named the best newcomer and feature writer in his region.

Will Watkinson, of the Essex Chronicle, scooped the double prize at today EDF Energy East of England Media Awards held at Carrow Road, Norwich.

Will quit his job at the age of 29 to join the paper he used to read and, in the words of the judges, has since gone on to scale new heights.

He won the Newcomer of the Year award after exposing a pillar of the community as a paedophile and the Feature Writer of the Year Award for what the judges called his “empathetic writing.”

EDF Energy Feature writer of the year

Said Will:  “I’m really happy. The whole industry is changing and we are all adapting. People put so much work into their journalism it’s just lovely to be recognised through these awards.”

He is pictured receiving his Feature Writer of the Year award from Paratriathlon World Champion Lauren Steadman, and Andrew Brown, EDF Energy’s brand sustainability and external communications director.

Today’s event, held in association with HoldtheFrontPage, also saw the Eastern Daily Press retain the Daily Newspaper of the Year prize and its website named Website of the Year.

The Archant publication also won Community Campaign of the Year, along with sister title the Norwich Evening News, for its Flood Appeal.

Nigel Pickover, editor of the EDP, said: “In the difficult times that the media has faced over the last ten years, we have maintained our quality and commitment to excellent journalism and have managed to maintain that across all platforms including mobile, print, online and TV.

“Winning is a tribute to great journalism. Without great content you are lost. I’m delighted for the whole team.”

The Welwyn and Hatfield Times was crowned Weekly Paid For Newspaper of the Year, whilst The Hunts Post went home with the Weekly Paid for Newspaper award.

And the Brentwood Gazette won Front Page of the Year for its splash ‘Man is killed by train then this happens,’ naming and shaming commuters for insensitive Tweets about a suicide victim.

The Gazette names and shames the commuters on its front page

Charles Thomson, of the Yellow Advertiser, was named Weekly Print Journalist of the Year, whilst Helen Barnett, of the Southend Echo, scooped the Daily Print Journalist title.

Chris Osborne, of BBC Sport, secured the Sports Journalist of the Year Award, whilst once again, Jon Austin, of the Basildon Echo and Southend Echo, was named Specialist Journalist of the Year, for his investigative reporting.

Now in their tenth year, the awards aim to honour the best in journalism across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Newcomer of the Year: Will Watkinson, The Essex Chronicle
Digital Journalist of the Year Michael Bailey, Archant Norfolk
Specialist Journalist of the Year: Jon Austin, Basildon / Southend Echo
News Photographer of the Year: Simon Finlay, Eastern Daily Press / Archant Norfolk
Sports Journalist of the Year: Chris Osborne, BBC Sport
Feature Writer of the Year: Will Watkinson, The Essex Chronicle
Columnist of the Year: Sadie Hasler, Southend Echo and Colchester Gazette
Designer of the Year: Alex Leys, Brentwood Gazette
Radio Journalist of the Year: Jon Wright, BBC Radio Suffolk
Television Journalist of the Year: Claire McGlasson, ITV News Anglia
Print Journalist of the Year (Weekly): Charles Thomson, Yellow Advertiser
Print Journalist of the Year (Daily): Helen Barnett, Southend Echo
Website of the Year: Archant Norfolk
Community Campaign of the Year: Eastern Daily Press / Norwich Evening News, Flood Appeal
Front Page of the Year: Brentwood Gazette, “Man is killed by train then this happens”
Radio News or Current Affairs Programme of the Year: BOB FM, Hertfordshire, The Story of Auschwitz
Television News or Current Affairs Programme of the Year: BBC Inside Out, The Village That’s Falling into the Sea
Weekly Free Newspaper of the Year: The Hunts Post
Weekly Paid For Newspaper of the Year: Welwyn and Hatfield Times
Daily Newspaper of the Year: Eastern Daily Press


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  • February 27, 2015 at 7:37 am

    An extra par explaining how and why a roofer/builder entered journalism would be appreciated.

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  • February 27, 2015 at 8:40 am

    @ tellus:

    “Sources close to the winner claim he entered journalism because he quite liked the idea of it as a rewarding career. Reports he may have done a course have neither been confirmed nor denied.”

    Well done to Will, as someone who entered newspapers at 27 it’s good to see there are still people coming into the industry who aren’t 22-year-old interns from Lemington Spa who are think council estates are all ‘like Shameless’.

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  • March 1, 2015 at 10:19 am

    Salt and vinegar for that chip on your shoulder, Jeff?

    Well done to all the winners.

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