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Journalist left in coma by street attack honoured after regional press return

A journalist who suffered “catastrophic” brain injuries in an unprovoked street attack has been honoured after fighting back to return to work in the regional press.

Sports writer Gary Carter, who was in a coma for six weeks after being punched to the ground in London after covering an England rugby league international in 2015, was awarded a Stand Out Award for his courage and determination at last night’s O2 Media Awards North West.

Gary spent four years in rehabilitation, learning how to walk and talk again, before joining the editorial team at Local Communications Limited, publishers of the Saddleworth Independent, to rediscover his writing and interview skills.

Gary, who began his career on the Tameside Reporter before stints at the Lancashire Telegraph, Manchester Evening News and The Sun, was given a standing ovation by guests at the ceremony at the AJ Bell Stadium, in Manchester.

Gary, pictured at the front in blue, with his fellow winners

Gary, pictured at the front in blue, with his fellow winners

The Liverpool Echo was the big winner on the night, scooping five awards including Daily Newspaper, On-Line and Most Memorable.

Echo political editor Liam Thorp beat more than 50 news reporters from across the region to be crowned News Reporter of the year, while James Maloney won the Photographer category.

Manchester Evening News chief reporter Neal Keeling was honoured with the Best Writer award, while newsroom colleague Sam Yarwood was named as this year’s recipient of the Rachael Bland Blogger/Vlogger Award.

Nicola Green, director of corporate affairs at O2, said: “The O2s showcase excellence in news, sport, entertainment, social and community media and applaud the growth of creative industries in the North West.

“This year’s entries once again highlighted the impact the media has on our communities.”

The full list of winners was:

O2 Emerging Talent:  Stacey Copeland – ITV Granada Reports

Video Journalism: Global’s Newsroom North West

Community Newspaper: Tameside Reporter

Entertainment Programme: BBC Factual, Salford – Watchdog Live

Writer (Two awards): Neal Keeling – Manchester Evening News, Jimmy McGovern & Gillian Juckes – LA Productions

News Reporter: Liam Thorp – Liverpool Echo

Most Memorable: Liverpool Echo – Six Stone Man

News Programme: ITV Granada Reports – Suicide Special

Documentary: Blakeway North – ‘My Life, I Will Survive’

Sports Programme: BBC North West Tonight – The Kennedy Who Changed The World

Radio Programme: Global’s Newsroom North West – Life After Murder

Magazine: Cumbria Life – Newsquest Cumbria

Specialist Publication: Inspiring Lancashire – Lancashire Post

TV Journalist: Abbie Jones – BBC North West Tonight

Young Journalist (Broadcast): Layla Wright – Radio City & BBC Radio 4

Young Journalist (Print): Stephen ToppingNorthwich Guardian

Sports Journalist (Two Awards): Chris Hall – ITV Granada Reports, Matt Scrafton – The Blackpool Gazette

Drama/Factual Drama: LA Productions – Care

Daily Newspaper: Liverpool Echo

Photographer: James Maloney – Liverpool Echo

On-Line Media: Liverpool Echo Live Newsroom

Community Award: The Sentinel – The Way We Were

Broadcast Presenter: Tony Morris – ITV Granada Reports

Rachael Bland Vlogger/Blogger Award: Samantha Yarwood – Manchester Evening News

Columnist: Jenny Amphlett – The Sentinel

Weekly Newspaper: Westmorland Gazette

Factual Programme: ITV Studios – 63 UP

Team of the Year: ITV Studios – 63 UP

Radio Journalist: Paul Doward – Radio City