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News Future Journalist award winners announced

Staffordshire University announced the 2021 winners of the Future Journalist Awards last night in a virtual ceremony.

Filming of the awards ceremony
Image: Filming of the awards ceremony

I’m proud to have a small role in recognising the talent and hard work these aspiring young journalists display. In this industry the first steps can be the hardest, but also the most important.

Matt Smith, BT Sport broadcaster

Recognising the talent of aspiring young journalists, winners and runners up were announced for best written entry, best video, and best audio in five age categories.

The awards ceremony was presented by Staffordshire University students Sophie Allen and Luke Mounteney and was filmed at the University’s broadcast newsroom.

The winners of the Future Journalist Awards were chosen from over 200 submissions and judged by a panel of industry experts.

The annual competition is organised by third-year journalism and PR students at Staffordshire University. Ian Whittell, Sports Journalism course leader and a judge for this year’s awards, was extremely impressed by the standard of submissions.

He said: “We’ve had a record number of entries this year and the standard of work produced across all ages has been outstanding.

“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, it hasn’t affected the quality of work. We had an impressive variety of pieces of journalism submitted, including some fascinating topics and persuasive arguments.

“It made my role as a judge harder than ever to narrow it down. Everybody who took part in the awards should be extremely proud of themselves.”

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s competition was fully online, including launch, school workshops, and the awards event. Taking the awards online has meant the competition reached a wider audience, with students from schools in Portugal and Qatar submitting entries.

BT Sport broadcaster, Matt Smith was a special guest speaker featured during the awards ceremony.

The experienced journalist, who has worked for BBC News, talkSPORT and ITV, shared highlights from his career and offered advice to the next generation of future journalists.

Matt said: “I’m proud to have a small role in recognising the talent and hard work these aspiring young journalists display. In this industry the first steps can be the hardest, but also the most important.”

Other guest speakers included Matt Sandoz, sports editor at BBC Radio Stoke, and Sonya Farrall, editor of hyperlocal news website Baba Baboon, one of this year’s judges and sponsor of the ‘best written’ category.

The winners each receive a £50 Amazon voucher and have their work published live on the StaffsLive website.

Josh Kent, a year 10 student at the Orme Academy in Newcastle-under-Lyme, had the winning written entry in the Years 10 to 11 category for his article on corruption.

He said: “I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to express my views in this article as it was very topical and something that interests me.

“I enjoy discussing my viewpoints and learning how to better communicate my ideas, something that we are developing at school in our English lessons.”

Chris Nelson, Head of English at the Orme Academy, added: “Our students really enjoyed writing persuasively for this competition. It was a great opportunity to write for a real purpose.”

And the winners are:

Years 3 to 4:


Winner: Alfie Vaughan (St Gregory’s Catholic Academy)

Runners-up: Issy Thompson (John Wheeldon Primary Academy) and Rudra Bhagwat (St Thomas Aquinas)


Winner: Sam Sutton (St Margaret’s CE Junior School)


Years 5 to 6:


Winner: Skyla Munyaneza (St Thomas Aquinas)

Runners-up: Leon George and Lily Hudson (John Wheeldon Primary Academy)


Winner: Connie Lee (St Gregory’s Catholic Academy)

Runner-up: Darci Talbot (St Gregory's Catholic Academy)


Winner: Milly Brown (St Gregory’s Catholic Academy)


Years 7 to 9:


Winner: Samantha Dalgleish (Painsley Catholic College)

Runners-up: Eleanor Lovatt (Denstone College) and Maisie Hawthorne (Trentham Academy)


Winner: Thomas Pointon (St John Fisher Catholic College)

Runners-up: Oliver Baskeyfield (Painsley Catholic College) and Lara Cripps (Painsley Catholic College)


Winner: Erika Lasmane (Painsley Catholic College)

Runner-up: Alfie Bonehill (Painsley Catholic College)


Years 10 to 11:


Winner: Josh Kent (The Orme Academy)

Runners-up: Charlotte Hudson (The Orme Academy) and Niamh Rainbow (Denmark Road High School for Girls)


Winner: Daisy Guinness (Upton-by-Chester High School)

Runner-up: Aleena Jojo (St John Fisher Catholic College)


Years 12 to 13:


Winner: Ryan Issac (Bourne End Academy)

Runners-up: Jaci Jimenez (Trinity Sixth Form) and Sophie Bateman (Kesteven and Grantham Girls' School)


Winner: Maria Conlon (St John Fisher Catholic College)

Runner-up: Diana Shabani (Newcastle-under-Lyme College)


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