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Peter Hill

Record numbers signed up for Guild training

Published on 24th September 2014

A record number of 17 trainees, as well as Guild awards secretary Louise Impey, attended this year’s BGAJ/John Deere Journalism Training Award at Deere’s Langar headquarters in July.

Numbers were boosted this year by several ‘observers’, as well as a winner of the QMS (Quality Meat Scotland) Food & Farming Journalism Bursary, set up as part of IFAJ Congress 2014.

“This year’s applications were of a particularly high standard, so it was more difficult than usual to make the final selection for the 10 places available,” says Steve Mitchell, who has managed the course on behalf of the Guild and sponsor John Deere Limited since 1991.

“I was also delighted to offer an extra place to one of the QMS Bursary winners, Fiona Turnbull; we had already awarded a place to Jo Learmonth, who by chance became the second QMS Bursary winner,” he adds. “Incidentally, Guild member Carol McLaren, who supported the idea for the bursary as head of communication at QMS, was in the ‘Class of ‘95’ for the training award.”

BGAJ-John Deere 2014

Steve adds that a higher number of applications than usual were received from people wanting to improve their writing skills who in other years would probably have gained a full place on the course.

“We took the decision to invite six of them to attend as what we call ‘observers’ – ie they pay their own way and are not eligible for the work experience placement or the final award, Steve explains. “But they still were able to benefit from the excellent basic training provided by our long-standing course lecturer David Mascord of DMC Training & Writing.

“In fact, ‘observers’ is a bit of a misnomer, as they took a full and active part in the classroom lectures and practical exercises provided by this part of the course, so we’ve come up with a new description for next year – non-Award trainees, or NATs for short!”

Entries for the 'best student' award (a news story of no more than 400 words) have been judged by David Mascord and Louise Impey in time for the winner and runner-up to be attend and be presented with their prizes at the Guild’s Harvest Lunch as guests of John Deere.

Profiles of this year’s course members and their work experience placements can be found here.

A full list of Guild members who ‘graduated’ in the early stages of their career is available in a Power Point document here, and in many cases, attending the award course was instrumental in them starting a career in journalism or PR.

After completing their studies, two of this year’s graduate course members secured full-time jobs in journalism: Alice Dyer is now a reporter with South East Farmer in her home county of Kent, and Rachel Martin from Northern Ireland has started work for the Newtownards Chronicle in County Down.

Peter Hill

BGAJ-John Deere 2014

This year’s BGAJ/John Deere Training Award course members (left to right, top row): Diane Hemming, Caitlin Peck, Morgan Standen, Simon Haley, Nigel Lyster, Ashleigh Davies; (bottom row) Adrian Evans, James Marshall, Sam Hiner, June Anderson, Fiona Turnbull, Georgie Saunders, Rachel Martin, Emily Edwards, Rebecca Horsington, Jo Learmonth, Alice Dyer.

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