Wiltshire awards to become annual

The Wiltshire NUJ Press Awards look set to become an annual feature after a successful launch event in Swindon.

Organised locally by the Swindon branch of the union, the competition, open to all journalists working in the county, attracted 65 entries and rewarded eight with £100 cash prizes.

Branch secretary Peter Foley said: “Away from the capital, journalists have often felt that most prizes tend to be monopolised by their colleagues in London and the loss of BT sponsorship for the regional media awards scheme had closed an important avenue for them to illustrate their skills.”

The awards dinner attracted 100 guests to the Goddard Arms Hotel in Swindon where NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear was guest of honour.

Steve Brodie from BBC Points West won best reporter, Peter Jones from GWR FM was best features reporter and Shaun Hodgetts of BBC Radio Swindon, best sports journalist.

Stanley Hurvitz, still plying his trade at 83, was the oldest of the award winners as best press officer. He works for Cirencester antiques outlet Moore Allan and Innocent.

Neville Smith of the Evening Advertiser won best headline with his introduction to the sale of Swindon footballer Sol Davis to Luton, headed “Loot ‘n’ Town”.

The Swindon daily title also claimed the scoop of the year award with Ben Fitzgerald’s exposure of an elderly patient spending a day locked in a cupboard at the newly opened Great Western Hospital.

Trevor Porter of the Trowbridge-based Wiltshire Times was best photographer. Ben D’Arcy of Central Television and Victoria Tagg of the Evening Advertiser shared the best newcomer prize.

By Dominic Ponsford

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