Three journalism students from Highbury College, University of Portsmouth and Solent University are honoured for their work by the NUJ

THREE high-achieving journalism students from the south coast have been recognised in an awards scheme created in memory of a former journalist and champion of journalists’ rights.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 11:14 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 7:50 am
Left to right: Isaac Farnworth, Marcus Wood and Veronica Parker, winners of the Bob Norris Award for Achievement in Journalism from the Solent Branch of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) 2021

The students, one from each of the three main institutions providing journalism training in the Solent region - the University of Portsmouth, Solent University and Highbury College - were nominated by their respective lecturers for making exceptional progress, achieving highly, or for contributing significantly towards their year group.

Each student will receive a certificate, a bespoke trophy created by The Maker's Guild Portsmouth, and money in recognition of their achievement.

The awards scheme was launched by the Solent branch of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in tribute to their cherished late colleague and former chairman, Bob Norris, in 2020.

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Bob’s widow, Pauline Norris, a former journalist and Chair of the Solent NUJ of Earnley, Chichester, said of the winners: ‘Now in its second year, I am delighted to see that the calibre of young journalistic talent coming out of today’s universities and colleges is as high as the inaugural year of the Bob Norris Award for Achievement in Journalism.

‘As society begins to return to normal following the pandemic there has never been a more important time to celebrate and welcome new talent into our field, as well as support the critical work of the union which continues to help our other colleagues facing crisis or misfortune.

‘All of the winners have been extremely worthy of their awards. I am particularly impressed and touched by the unique challenges these young professionals have overcome in their own ways. Bob would have been proud of them.’

Verona Parker, 29, from Winchester, who is studying Journalism with Media Studies at the University of Portsmouth, said: ‘I feel overwhelmed but in a good way. With everything that has happened over the last few years politically, socially, and within my personal life, I have felt increasingly motivated to dedicate my writing to these pressing topics, particularly the rights of transgender people and other minorities.’

In support of Verona's nomination, Ian Tapster, principal lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, said: ‘Like Bob, Verona is a passionate supporter of social justice. Through her outstanding journalism and academic work, she offers critical and nuanced perspectives that challenge outdated norms and promote the interests of marginalised groups.

‘This is epitomised by her outstanding dissertation that examined how the British press perpetuates a hostile attitude towards transgender people.’

Marcus Wood, 19, from Bristol, who won his award for his achievements on the NCTJ Level 3 Diploma at Highbury College, said: ‘Having spent a year in lockdown hearing a lot of sad national news, I turned to local news to find uplifting and positive stories, many of which really resonated with me. Following these stories inspired me to go into journalism and hopefully be able to highlight and uplift voices in my community.’

Marcus' lecturer, Darren Sadler said: ‘Marcus came to Highbury from his home city of Bristol after completing his A-levels - the second youngest student to join the NCTJ Level 3 Diploma.

‘Living away from home (alone) for the first time in a new city during a pandemic I imagine was challenging, especially when many lessons had to be conducted remotely.

‘However, Marcus showed remarkable resilience and engaged extremely well with his studies. He demonstrated an understanding of the importance of community news reporting and throughout the course his levels of confidence and skillsets developed well.’

Isaac Farnworth, who enjoyed working in communications teams at tennis events such as Roland Garros and the Queen’s Tennis Championships as part of his Sports Journalism studies at Solent University said: ‘Winning the Bob Norris Achievement Award is a lovely surprise and a great honour.

‘It’s something I will cherish as I come to the end of my studies. It means a lot, and I think it’s important as it recognises and proves that despite living with a serious mental health condition, it is still possible to produce some great work while also looking out for those around you.’

Issac’s lecturer, Will Cope, said: ‘Isaac's educational journey has been far from straightforward. When at secondary school he had to deal with some complex mental health issues, which for some people would have proved insurmountable.

‘Despite this, he successfully progressed to his chosen BA (Hons) degree in Sports Journalism at Solent University. Isaac managed to overcome two national lockdowns due to Covid-19, which was a challenging time for everyone's mental health, complete a demanding course and produce some fantastic work all whilst still being a caring, supportive, and respectful student, peer, and friend.’

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