Pupils from schools across North Staffordshire have been recognised for their media talents at Staffordshire University’s Future Journalist Awards 2019.
Organised by students from the University’s media department, the annual awards are an opportunity for aspiring young writers, between the ages seven to 18, to showcase their talent.
Special guest speakers Matt Smith, sports broadcaster at BT Sport, and Rebecca Wood, presenter for BBC Midlands, shared highlights from their careers and provided advice on pursing a career in media, before presenting awards to this year’s winners and runners-up.
Experienced broadcaster Matt Smith said: “It’s always nice to be asked to be a part of something like this, and it’s an eye opener to see what students are up to in a journalism environment, like the one at Staffordshire University. It’s reassuring to see the next generation of journalists. I think it’s fantastic that the awards give children as young as seven a chance to enter a competition and express themselves creatively. It’s lovely to see kids of all ages being given a chance to participate and being rewarded. It was amazing that there were so many entries, and clearly the standard was very high – whether it was written pieces or vlogs. It could be their first steps towards a future career in the industry.”
BBC presenter Rebecca Wood, who completed her Masters in Broadcast Journalism at Staffordshire University, added: “I think that it’s really important we support the next generation of journalists. They are key in keeping this industry going, but today was also about rewarding their hard work. If there was something like this available when I was at school, I would have totally been on board.”
The winners from each of the five age categories received a £50 Amazon voucher and the opportunity for a Newsday Experience in the University’s broadcast newsroom.
Freya Follwell, year 6 student at Seabridge Primary School, was the joint winner of her category for her video entry and was presented with her award by Sonya Farrall, Creative Director of BabaBaboon. In the vlog, Freya spoke about her school’s radio station.
She explained: “At my school we have our own radio station, something not many primary schools have, so for my entry I thought I’d show everyone around and explain how we use it.”
Diana Shabani, a year 10 student at St John Fisher Catholic College, scooped first prize for her category with an article about Iran, her birth country. Diana said: “I was born in Iran and visited every summer when I was younger. I chose to write about it as I want everyone to know its beauty. A lot of what you see in the news is true, but there is so much more to the country than its politics. It’s been a great experience as this is the first competition where I’ve been a finalist. I knew there was a small chance of winning, but just being here at the awards was amazing.”
Louise Elliott, Head of audience for Stoke-on-Trent Live and The Sentinel also presented awards at the event.
The winners were:
Years 3 to 6 category
Joint winner: Lillian Bird, Year 6 at John Wheeldon Primary School
Joint winner: Freya Follwell, Year 6 at Seabridge Primary School
Runner-up: Amie-Marie Hemming, Year 6 at John Wheeldon Primary School
Runner-up: Lily-Beam Lymath, Year 3 at John Wheeldon Primary School
Runner-up: Sophia Shelley, Year 5 at John Wheeldon Primary School
Runner-up: Mya Alexander Jones, Year 5 at John Wheeldon Primary School
Years 7 to 9 category
Winner: Daisy Guinness, Year 8 at Upton-by-Chester High School
Runner-up: Saskia Harris, Year 7 St John Fisher Catholic College
Runner-up: Daisy-Mae Jones, Year 7 St John Fisher Catholic College
Years 10 to 11 category
Winner: Diana Shabani, Year 10 at St John Fisher Catholic College
Runner-up: Maria Conlon, Year 10 St John Fisher Catholic College
Runner-up: Alyx Furnival, Year 11 at Newcastle-under-Lyme School
Years 12 to 13 category
Winner: Sophie Harrison, Year 12 at Upton-by-Chester High School
Runner-up: Jack Oulton, Year 12 at Alsager Sixth Form College
Runner-up: Jade Webber, Year 12 at St John Fisher Catholic College