After a number of immensely successful fundraising campaigns, the Thomas Read bursary has decided to award two bursaries for the 2016-17 academic year. Announced at this year’s Journalism Diversity Fund annual reception, Sky Sports News executive editor and NCTJ trustee, Andy Cairns presented the bursaries. Selected from among the last four cohorts of successful Journalism Diversity Fund applicants, the Read family decided to give the awards to Josh Kitto and Sophie Morris.
Josh Kitto, 24, has already begun his studies on the News Associates London fast-track course while Sophie Morris, 22, will be studying at Press Association London this coming January. Both will receive financial contributions to their bursaries as well as the opportunity to complete a one-week work experience placement with Sky Sports News.
Andy Cairns read a speech on behalf of the Read family as they were unable to attend the event. He read: “We truly feel that Sophie and Josh fully embody the spirit of Thomas’ legacy and know that they have the potential to become really good journalists in their chosen fields, following in the footsteps of Gemma - our 2015 recipient who is now a trainee at the BBC.
“We wish Sophie and Josh all the very best and hope that they enjoy their respective courses. We will definitely meet up with you both very soon.
“We are extremely grateful for all the support and sponsorship that we continue to receive from Sky and of course from everyone at the NCTJ. It would never have been possible to set up the bursary without their guidance and enthusiasm.”
The bursary was set up by the Read family in honour of their son and brother, Thomas, who overcame adversity to follow his dream of a career in sports journalism.
Thomas, who battled cerebral palsy from a young age, won a place to study a postgraduate journalism course at Cardiff University and then, after completing work experience at Sky Sports News joined them as a full-time sports journalist working on the bulletin team.
Unfortunately, and unexpectedly, Thomas passed away in early 2015. His family set up the Thomas Read bursary in his memory to award journalists who demonstrated the qualities embodied by Thomas: a passion for journalism; a determination to succeed; and the ability to overcome adversity.
Upon receiving the award Josh said: “I am honoured that the Journalism Diversity Fund and the Read family have given me this opportunity. As with most journalists, I wanted to be a journalist to report about the stories not being told and the voices not being heard. Opportunities like the Thomas Read bursary mean that more of these stories can be told, and I hope it will allow me to do this as I pursue my career in journalism.”
Last year’s winner of the bursary was Gemma-Louise Stevenson who was completing her sports journalism MA at St Mary’s University in Twickenham. Gemma is currently a trainee journalist on the BBC’s Journalism Trainee Scheme. At the reception Gemma addressed the latest batch of bursary recipients specifically giving advice to the two new Thomas Read winners.
She said: “To the Thomas Read Bursary recipients in particular, know that the Read family are the most amazing people to get to know and will show such an interest in your career not just during training but afterwards, you really do become part of the family.”