Previous Thomas Read bursary recipients join NCTJ fundraising efforts

Four previous recipients of the Thomas Read bursary will be joining the NCTJ and Read family on Saturday, 29 June to raise money for the fund which helped them train as journalists.

The bursary is awarded each year through the NCTJ’s Journalism Diversity Fund to aspiring journalists with disabilities or long-term physical or mental health problems.

The bursary was set up by the family of the young Sky Sports News journalist, Thomas Read, who died unexpectedly in 2015, aged 25.

The NCTJ team, Read family and supporters will be walking 15km in the Essex countryside to raise money for the fund. A celebratory BBQ will also take place at the NCTJ's offices in the evening.

Sophie Morris was awarded the bursary in 2016, which enabled her to study with Press Association Training in London, and she now works in television news for the BBC.

She said: “I’m really excited to take part in the fundraising walk. With the help and support offered to me through the Thomas Read bursary I was able to complete my NCTJ qualification with Press Association Training, and was awarded a place on the BBC's flagship Journalism Trainee Scheme in 2017.

“During the Trainee Scheme I was able to work on large breaking news stories including the Manchester Arena attack and key Brexit developments - and Thomas and the Read family were particularly in my mind when I was given the fantastic opportunities to cover the Commonwealth Games, World Cup 2018 and Wimbledon.

“Having spent the last year working as a political reporter for the BBC, I am now working in television news at the BBC's rolling News Channel. I am extremely grateful for the guidance and confidence the Thomas Read bursary has given me to pursue my dream career, and I feel privileged to be doing so not only for myself - but in memory of Thomas.”

Connor Parker, who received the bursary in 2017 to study at the University of Sheffield, will be joining the walk for the second year running.

He said: “The Thomas Read bursary helped me really get my foot in the door of the journalism industry, the work experience opportunities and funding they provided were instrumental in helping me get my first job at the HuffPost which was one of the most exciting and rewarding opportunities I've ever had.

“It helped again when I was able to reference my experience and the bursary at the interview for my current job as a content producer for the Press Association."

Last year’s bursary recipient, Nicola Kenton, is now coming to the end of her course with News Associates London and will be undertaking a paid internship with Sportsbeat as a multimedia reporter during the summer.

She said: “The Thomas Read bursary helped me fund my sports journalism course, without it I wouldn't have been able to afford to live in London while completing my NCTJ.

“As part of the bursary, I got work experience at Sky Sports News in April where I saw many aspects of how a live sports news channel worked. I got stories published on the Sky Sports website, edited a few packages which were broadcast on the channel and attended a press conference at Crystal Palace.

“I'd like to thank the Read family for awarding me the bursary and helping me develop my career in sports journalism.”

Gemma-Louise Stevenson, the first recipient of the bursary in 2015, will also be joining the NCTJ and Read family on the day. Gemma, who studied at St Mary’s University, now works as a freelance reporter covering para-sport for Sky Sports and is the ‘voice of para-sport’ for GiveMeSport Women.

She said: “It's impossible to put into words how life-changing receiving the Thomas Read bursary was for me and how much it's allowed me to achieve - I'm talking things I couldn't even in imagine in my wildest dreams like reporting from some of the world’s biggest sporting events for Sky Sports and even sitting here now filling out the accreditation forms for the Tokyo Paralympics next year.

“The bursary is the perfect way to remember Thomas and the passion he had for journalism and once you receive it there's an added bonus nobody tells you about - you immediately become part of the Read family and they're there in your corner cheering you on throughout every stage of your career.

“We desperately need more disabled talent represented in our newsrooms and the bursary helps remove the financial barriers that sometimes get in the way. I always love heading back and supporting their fundraising events in the hope that the money raised will help another young journalist as much as it has helped me.”

The NCTJ’s fundraising target is £2,000. Please support this very worthy cause by sponsoring the walk here: https://www.everyclick.com/thomas-read-walk-2019/info