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Local football reports inspire journalism student’s award-winning article

Peter StewartA journalism student who wrote junior football reports for his local newspaper has won an award given in memory of a man dubbed “Scotland’s finest journalist”.

The Ian Bell New Writing Award has been won by Peter Stewart, a third-year journalism student at Stirling University, for a piece called ‘Scottish Junior Football – the beautiful game’.

The competition, launched in 2017 to honour unpublished work by writers under 30 in Scotland, is given in memory of Ian Bell, who died in December 2015 aged 59 after working for all of Scotland’s major titles.

The prize is presented by Ian’s family and the Edinburgh branch of the National Union of Journalists, of which he was a member.

Said Peter: “I’m nothing short of honoured and humbled to receive first prize in an award associated with such a great man and writer. I can’t thank the organisers and judges enough. I know there will have been some outstanding writers in the running.

“My piece was born of reporting on junior football for my local paper, and I thought I’d put a different spin on it, focused on things I saw and people I met.

“I’ve always been fascinated with how Scotland performs infamously at the sport, and yet it’s our lifeblood. It really is more than a game – it’s generational, historical and magical. Junior football encapsulates that at its most raw.

“Biggest thanks to Tom Collins and all at the journalism department at Stirling, without whom I’d never have thought to submit for the award.”

Joint runners-up awards went to Edinburgh-based Catriona O’Sullivan, who is studying for an NCTJ diploma in journalism, and to Greg Ritchie, from Dunfermline, who is currently studying History and Politics at Wadham College, Oxford.

The judges also gave a ‘highly commended’ mention to Mark Wilson, a student of digital media at Stirling University, for his unusual take on the world of apocalypse predictors.