Ham&High scoops top prize in weekly paper awards

Left to right: David Kerr, chairman of sponsor Clacksons; Lorraine Strachan, Ham&High head of sales; Geoff Martin,Ham&High group editor and John Robertson, president of the Newspaper Society

Hampstead & Highgate Express group editor Geoff Martin admitted his staff were feeling the after-effects of celebrating following their win at the 2003 Weekly Newspaper Awards.

The Archant-owned title was named paid-for newspaper of the year and best paid-for weekly in the South East awards at the Newspaper Society event, with judges singling it out for being “high value, informative and easy to read”.

Martin said the paper had switched to a harder news agenda in the past year and this, along with the paper’s reputation for quality features, had helped it to win the prize.

He said: “The Ham&High always had an excellent reputation for features and continues to do so. This week we have interviews with Martin Bell and Joan Bakewell and that’s only because of the reputation of the paper. It’s going from strength to strength.”

The fact that the awards came in the same year that the paper launched an edition for St John’s Wood and Maida Vale was also a source of delight for the editor, who has been at the helm for a year. “Sometimes you can take your eye off the ball and concentrate on the new edition, but we haven’t and it’s a tribute to everyone working across the series,” he said.

Kent on Sunday, which was launched in late 2002, was also jubilant after picking up the top prize in the best free newspaper and best free paper in the South East categories. Editor Ian Patel said the awards topped off what had been a “very hard and very enjoyable year”.

“We’ve only done about 60 editions, so to be national paper of the year is absolutely super,” he said. “It shows what you can do with a bit of imagination and dedicated staff.”

The former Trinity Mirror Southern journalist said the paper stood out due to its investment in editorial talent. “We aim to have the highest journalistic standards. A lot of my reporting staff are former editors and we spend a lot of money on editorial.”

KoS journalist Shelley Whittaker scooped the feature writer prize. The panel praised her “strong material that illustrates proper feature writing and a good, diverse range of subjects”.

Other winners included: Free weekly newspaper community award – North Somerset Times: Collection of Stories; (Sutton Coldfield Observer, highly commended; Yellow Advertiser (Basildon), certificate of merit).

Free weekly newspaper campaigning award – Sutton Coldfield Observer: Save Sutton’s Magistrates’ Court (Barnet Press, HC; Yellow Advertiser (Basildon), CoM).

Best news journalist (paid-for weekly) – Kelly Crane, Weston & Somerset Mercury (Mike Pflanz, South London Press, HC, Allison ThomasMears, Llanelli Star, CoM).

Best news journalist (free weekly) – Allistair Harris, Lichfield Mercury (Jon Austin, Yellow Advertiser, HC; Neil Clements, Kent on Sunday, CoM, Jamie McGinnes, Kent on Sunday, CoM).

Best feature journalist (paid-for weekly)- Reg Little, The Oxford Times (Jenni Frazer, The Jewish Chronicle, HC; Josie Stephenson, Brentwood Gazette Series, HC).

Best feature journalist (free weekly) – Shelley Whittaker, Kent on Sunday (Beverley Rouse, Harlow Star, HC; Neil Clements, Kent on Sunday, HC).

Best photographer (paid-for weekly) – John Rifkin, The Jewish Chronicle (Steve Barber, The Westmorland Gazette, HC; Helen South, The Hunts Post, CoM).

Best photographer (free weekly) – Miriam Balfry, Stourbridge News (Allan Williamson, Lichfield Mercury, HC).

Best paid-for weekly in the South East, including Greater London – Hampstead & Highgate Express (Reading Chronicle, HC; Romford Recorder, CoM).

Best free weekly newspaper in the South East, including Greater London – Kent on Sunday (The Enfield Advertiser, HC; Barnet & Whetstone Press, CoM).

Best paid-for weekly in Wales and the South West – Wiltshire Times (North Wales Weekly News, HC; Cornish Guardian, CoM).

Best free weekly in Wales and the South West – Taunton Times (Clevedon Mercury , HC; Weston & Worle News, CoM).

Best paid-for weekly in the West and East Midlands and Eastern region – Essex Chronicle (Shrewsbury Chronicle, HC; Mansfield Chad, CoM, Lowestoft Journal, CoM).

Best free weekly in the West and East Midlands and Eastern region – Lichfield Mercury (Walsall Advertiser, HC; The Hunts Post, CoM).

Best paid-for weekly in the North West, North East and Yorkshire – The Westmorland Gazette (Gazette & Herald, Ryedale, HC; Wakefield Express, CoM, Harrogate Advertiser, CoM).

Best free weekly in the North West, North East and Yorkshire – Oldham Advertiser (South Manchester Reporter, HC; North Yorkshire News, CoM).

Best paid-for weekly in Scotland – The Southern Reporter (The Berwickshire News, HC; East Kilbride News, CoM).

Best free weekly in Scotland – Aberdeen Independent (The Glaswegian, CoM).

Best paid-for weekly in Northern Ireland- Ulster Herald (Andersonstown News, CoM).

Best free weekly in Northern Ireland – Belfast News.

Best paid-for weekly Newspaper of the Year – Hampstead & Highgate Express.

Clacksons special award for Innovative Person of the Year – Judi Kisiel, Weston & Somerset Mercury; Martin Biddle, Slough & Langley Observer.

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