Preparing for the Cook-Off Challenge

The Press Club’s annual Curry Night will soon be here – featuring, as usual, the Great Cook-Off Challenge.

Organised by Indian chef and author Anita Sharma-James, a former medical research scientist who set up her own cookery school eight years ago, the event is being held on 19 October (commencing 7 pm) at Jojolapa, the Nepalese restaurant situated in Newhall Street, Birmingham.

Tickets for the evening are £20 each, the cost of which includes a two-course meal.

Attendees can pay on the night but anyone who plans to be there is asked to email in advance to confirm their attendance.

2016 winners - Dawn Roberts and Kay Cadman

2016 winners - Dawn Roberts and Kay Cadman

Last year’s champions, Press Club director Kay Cadman and her sister Dawn Roberts, director of PR agency Headline Communications (pictured) are unable to defend their title so there will be a new name on the trophy as six teams compete to be crowned Curry Kings of 2017.

Anita, who is a Press Club director, will be providing inspiration to the contestants by offering expert advice in the form of a short cookery demonstration prior to the Cook Off Challenge. She said: “Cooking is a fun and creative experience – and if previous years are anything to go by some of the dishes may well be funny creations!”


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Apprentice journalists from the Express & Star have for the first time joined other diploma students at City of Wolverhampton College to celebrate passing their course with flying colours.

Four apprentices and eight others who have just completed the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) Diploma in Journalism through the college, were presented with their certificates by Keith Harrison (pictured, front centre), Editor of the Express & Star at a special awards event.

The graduates enjoyed a talk by former journalist at South London Press and comedian Ben Clover as part of the celebrations.

As well as those who work at the Express & Star and Shropshire Star, many of the students have already secured jobs in the industry, gaining employment at newspapers and media outlets that include SWNS News Agency, Caters News Agency, Hot Spot Media and Worcester News.

NCTJ course leader Dani Wozencroft (pictured, front, second left) said: “It has been another very exciting year with both the Express & Star and BBC apprentices and the full time Diploma students. The apprentices have had to put in a lot of effort to study alongside working in a demanding newsroom. I am very proud of everyone who has achieved and look forward to seeing their names in the press for years to come.”

Student of the Year Tom Tracey with Beverley Bailey, NCTH Head of Development

Student of the Year Tom Tracey with Beverley Bailey, NCTH Head of Development

Student of the Year Tom Tracey, who passed 100 words per minute shorthand at 100% accuracy at the first time of asking, was handed his award by Beverley Bailey, head of development at the NCTJ.

The college has been accredited by the NCTJ since 1997 and is the only accredited further education journalism training centre in the Midlands.  It has been named the best performing NCTJ further education college in the UK for six consecutive years and is helping to train the BBC’s radio apprentices across the country as well as working with the Express & Star on its journalism apprenticeship scheme.

  • City of Wolverhampton College is the number one college in the Midlands - and in the top 10% nationally - for learner satisfaction, and was graded ‘Good’ by Ofsted in November 2014. It currently has around 10,000 students, as well as 1,300 apprentices working for employers across the Black Country and beyond.

Midland journalist caught up in Las Vegas shooting

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Express and Star journalist Nathan Judah (pictured) has described the “pandemonium” in Las Vegas after being caught up in the attack by a lone gunman which killed almost 60 people and injured more than 500 others.

Nathan, digital sports editor at the Wolverhampton-based daily, who is on holiday in the American city, has relayed his experiences back home in the aftermath of the tragedy.

He made a series of posts on Twitter from close to the scene shortly after the attack, saying: “Wow, loads of shots just fired on Vegas strip… people just running, very scary. Trying to get back to our hotel but proving difficult.

“Back in room now and hotel on lockdown. Vegas strip is pandemonium. Looking after lady who was in the middle of it all and is very shaken. Scary.”

Nathan later added: “Thank-you for all the kind comments…really appreciate it. Thoughts and prayers with everyone affected, keep safe.”

Speaking afterwards to the Express & Star, Nathan said: “We were around 50 yards away from where it happened. It’s hard to work out what we heard, but all of a sudden there was sheer panic, everyone was running away.

“We ran with them, people around us were looking for covering, trying to get to their hotels. It was pandemonium. We were lucky to get a taxi when we did before more crowds of people came along.”

He added: “There are people being treated in the lobby and we’re looking after someone in our hotel room. I’m looking outside and see the area is in lockdown, police cars are everywhere.

“People are in shock, trying to call family, trying to find out what is going on.”

Back to the city centre

The Birmingham Mail is to move back into the city centre into premises from where it will oversee the separation of its print and digital operation. Its new home will be Embassy House in the Colmore Business District.

The relocation – after ten years at Fort Dunlop – will also coincide with the newspaper’s website being rebranded as Birmingham Live.

Embassy House is less than half a mile from Colmore Circus, where the Mail was based prior to the Fort Dunlop move.

Embassy House, the new home of the Birmingham Mail and Birmingham Live

Embassy House, the new home of the Birmingham Mail and Birmingham Live

The Birmingham Live team, which will be independent from those working on the Mail, will be based in a new digital newsroom in Embassy House.

Editor Marc Reeves said: “This move has been long overdue and will enable our journalists to spend more time on the beat gathering stories and meeting contacts. Birmingham, and in particular the city centre, has seen huge growth in recent years so it’s great to know we will be back in the core of the action and better able to cover the key news events affecting our readers.

“It will also help our business teams cement their relationships with advertisers and enable them to reach their key audiences through our print and digital products and events. Our industry-leading online growth has transformed the Post & Mail into a true digital media business.

“Alongside the office move, we are also planning some innovative and ground-breaking changes to our online presence which will see us leading the way for regional publishers in the UK.”

A company statement said: ““The move to Embassy House will allow journalists to be in the very heart of the city which they report on each and every day, allowing them to be closer to the source of the news.

“Today marks the tenth anniversary of the Birmingham Mail being based at Fort Dunlop. However for some time the ambition has been to return the core of the team to the city centre to be closer to their audience. Therefore it has been decided that the team’s new headquarters will be Embassy House.

Publisher Trinity Mirror says there will be a “small net reduction in the number of newsroom roles” as a result of the changes in Birmingham, although it has previously declined to say how many.

The relocation will take place in December.


Club Chairman “In Conversation” with...

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The next First Thursday, the Press Club’s popular networking event, takes place on 5 October at St Paul’s Club, St Paul’s Square, Birmingham, B3 1QZ (tel 0121236 1950).

Members will be meeting from 5.30 pm and for the first time, in our new
location, we will be incorporating a new feature of the evening – in Conversation
with the Chairman.

Llewela Bailey will be coaxing secrets out of ITV anchorman Bob Warman, her
on-screen “husband” for many years on Central News. So that’s “secrets at six o’clock.”

It should be fun – hope you can make it!


Newcomer of the Year is the most hotly-contested category of this year’s Midlands Media Awards, with 26 entries having been received from media students and trainee journalists. However, only two journalists were shortlisted for the Business Journalist award – the judges saying that they were surprised that many entrants regarded re-hashed press releases as being worthy of such a prestigious award. And that it was apparent that few newspapers in the region adequately covered the business sector

Altogether, just over 200 entries have been submitted for the Awards from across the region, with eight titles competing for Newspaper of the Year.

“At a time when journalists, nationwide, are still concerned over redundancies and title closures, it is encouraging to note that the awards still have as much appeal as ever,” said Llewela Bailey, chairman of Birmingham Press Club, which has been organising the Midlands Media Awards for the past 15 years.

HSBC are headline sponsors of the awards, which are being held on 2 November at Canalside, a waters-edge location within The Cube in Birmingham city centre. Other supporters are Bareface, Core, Russell Printers, The High Field and Milk and Mayo.

Shortlisted for the awards are: 

Blogger/Columnist of the Year:
Anton Rippon, Derby Telegraph
Cheryl Hague, Derby Telegraph
Gary Newbon, Birmingham Mail/Coventry Telegraph
Jenny Amphlett, The Sentinel
Mike Lockley, Birmingham Mail
Peter Rhodes, Express and Star
Ross Hawkes, Lichfield Live.

Business Journalist:  
Enda Mullen, Coventry Telegraph
Les Reid, Coventry Observer

Campaign of the Year: 
Tamworth Herald’s Forgotten Warrior
Tamworth Herald/Lichfield Mercury’s Save the Hospital Unit
The Sentinel’s Stoke-on-Trent City of Culture Bid
Birmingham Mail’s Justice for the 21
Birmingham Mail’s Pay for Hospice’s Christmas Day.
Express and Star’s Zombie Knives Campaign

Digital/Online Journalist:
Caroline Lowbridge, BBC East Midlands
James Sharpe, Leicester Mercury
Annette Belcher, Birmingham Mail
Antonia Bannister, Coventry Telegraph
Graham Young, Birmingham Mail
Rebecca Burrows, ITV Central

Features Journalist:
Amy Bowen, Central Independent Newspapers
Andie Darlington, Taste the Seasons
Jessica Labhart, Express and Star
Justine Halifax, Birmingham Mail
Mike Lockley, Sunday Mercury
Richard Alt, The Sentinel
Zoe Chamberlain, Birmingham Mail

ArtsBeat (Amanda Penman)
Birmingham 2022 (Paul Cole)
Birmingham Living (Jonathan Carter)
Midlands Business Insider (Ian Griffin)
Venture (Kathryn Emerson)
Shropshire Business (Carl Jones)

Newcomer of the Year:
Jack Furness, The Sentinel
Jordan Coussins, Central Independent Newspapers
Gemma Davies, Quidem Radio
Michael McCann, Staffordshire University
Rhea Turner, Burton Mail
Oliver Hills, Birmingham Updates

News Reporter (Daily):
Enda Mullen, Coventry Telegraph
Jeanette Oldham, Birmingham Mail
Neil Elkes, Birmingham Post & Mail
Isaac Crowson, Derby Telegraph
Jack Averty, Express and Star
Helen Kreft, Burton Mail

News Reporter (Weekly):
Adam Smith, Halesowen News
Beverley Holder, Stourbridge News
Jordan Coussins, Central Independent Newspapers
Mike Lockley, Sunday Mercury
Nicholas Reid, Tamworth Herald
Sam Jones, Tamworth Herald
Sanjeeta Baines, Birmingham Post

Newspaper of the Year:
Birmingham Mail
Burton Mail
Derby Telegraph
Express and Star
Hereford Times
Hinckley Times
Sunday Mercury
Tamworth Herald

Radio Journalist of the Year:
Alex Hulse, Global Radio
Laura Chiverton, Global Radio
Laura Scigliano, Gem 106
Jennie Aitken, BBC Radio Stoke
Louise Easton, Free Radio
Rob Trigg, Free Radio

Sports Journalist of the Year:
Steve Clamp, ITV Central
Michael Sibert, ITV Central
Geoff Berkeley, Worcester News
James Sharpe, Leicester Mercury
Lewis Cox, Express and Star
Simon Gilbert, Coventry Telegraph

Story of the Year:
An Afghan interpreter’s journey (Audrey Dias, BBC Midlands Today)
Racism in football (Michael McCann, Staffordshire University)
NHS prescription fraud (Jonathan Gibson, BBC Inside Out West Midlands))
Horrors of Aston Hall (Isaac Crowson, Derby Telegraph)
Death on the Freezing Street –tragedy of rough sleeper (Birmingham Mail)
Tesco Pricing (Jonathan Gibson, BBC Inside Out West Midlands)

Television Journalist:
David Gregory-Kumar, BBC Midlands Today
Mike Prince, Made in Birmingham TV
Jonathan Gibson, BBC Inside Out West Midlands
Mark Gough and Michael Sibert, both of ITV Central
Sian Grzeszczyk, BBC Midlands Today

Tony Flanagan Photographer of the Year:
Darren Quinton, Trinity Mirror
Graham Young, Birmingham Mail
Nick Wilkinson, Birmingham Mail
Richard T Harris, Central Independent Newspapers
Steve Bould, The Sentinel
Tim Easthope, Birmingham Mail
Tim Thursfield, Express and Star

Retro Harmony Group lined up for Media Awards evening

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Providing the razzmatazz at this year’s Midlands Media Awards will be popular retro harmony trio, The Miss Fortunes.

The girls – known as Miss Chief, Miss Fire and Miss Fit – deliver an eclectic mix of songs from the roaring 20s, the swinging 60s through to the hits of today.

And with a repertoire of over 100 songs there should be something for everybody!

Based in the West Midlands, the group – dressed in their favourite retro-style clothing – have been delighting audiences since being formed in 2012 with their own distinctive brand of close harmony singing.

“Not only that but they are well-known for their down-to- earth personalities, good rapport with the audience and tongue-in- cheek humour,” said Lotty Harper, who is organising the awards on behalf of Birmingham Press Club. “Their energy is infectious so their performance should add something a little special to the evening.”

HSBC are headline sponsors of the Awards, which are being held at one of Birmingham’s new events venues – Canalside, the waters-edge facility located within The Cube, an iconic landmark buildings in the city. Ticket prices for the event are £80 (including VAT) for individuals, while tables of ten are available at £750 (including VAT).

For further information regarding the awards, sponsorship opportunities and tickets contact Lotty Harper at Milk and Mayo event management on 07815 831 554 or email

Meeting up in Vienna


Exchanging greetings - Naureen Kimbacher, from the organisational team of the Austrian Journalists Club (OJC) and Fred Bromwich, vice-chairman of Birmingham Press Club.

Fred met up with Naureen and secretary general Margarete Turnheim, during a trip to Austria where he visited the OJC headquarters, located in Vienna city centre.

Founded 40 years ago and situated near St Stephan’s Cathedral, the Austrian Journalists Club has more than 6,700 members and is the largest independent organisation for journalists in Austria. It prides itself on being a “meeting place for communication,” providing a connection between east and west.

The Vienna International Press Center is also located on the premises, providing an 80 sq m newsroom and accommodation suitable for press conferences, seminars, meetings and receptions. The modern facilities contrast sharply with the renovated, but very old office building – one that dates back 500 years.

Meanwhile, fellow Birmingham Press Club Life Member Tom Ross was out of luck when he tried to visit Press Clubs in North America.

“I failed on not one but two counts,” said Tom. “The Washington DC Press Club
was closed for renovations and the Ottawa one on Parliament Hill seems to have
closed in 2005!”

Anita launches ‘Tiffin Tuesdays’

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Indian chef and author Anita Sharma-James, who is a director of Birmingham Press Club, is launching a new series of Indian cookery lessons, to be held at the award-winning Mendi Restaurant in Wychbold, near Droitwich.

After giving a brief introduction to India and its food heritage, Anita will then demonstrate how to blend Indian spices – before giving her protégés hands-on experience at preparing their own Indian vegetarian starters, main course and breads.

Anita said: “After preparing their very own curries, breads and spice blends, people will then get the opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal served in an authentic tiffin box – the traditional Indian lunchbox.” 

The family-friendly Mendi Restaurant, located on Worcester Road, Wychbold, specialises in vegetarian home cooking which offers authentic Indian cuisine.

Anyone wishing to join Anita for her “Tiffin Tuesdays” should phone 07764686119 or email They are being held from 11 am until 2 pm on 19 September, 26 September and 3 October.

The cost, to include lunch is £65 per person or £50 for a booking of six or more

Death of ex-weekly newspaper editor


After a short illness, former weekly newspaper editor Mike Robinson has died at the age of 65 – the day after his wife, Lesley, passed away. Until recently, Mike worked as a journalist on newspapers in Shropshire and North Wales.

He spent 21 years as editor of various titles including the South Shropshire Journal, Mid Wales Journal, Hereford Journal and Ludlow Journal, having joined the Shrewsbury Chronicle in 1988.

In more recent times he worked on the Oswestry & Border Counties Advertizer and the Whitchurch Herald.

Mike started out on the Advertizer and also spent 13 years as deputy sports editor on The Leader, in Wrexham, during his career. A keen sportsman, Mike served as chairman of Oswestry Cricket Club and was a founder committee member of the Wem Sunday Football League.

Paying tribute, ex-Shrewsbury Chronicle editor John Butterworth said: “Mike was a great professional journalist and a great character who will really be sadly missed. He did excellent work with the cricket club and what a lot of people don’t know about is the excellent work he did with the disabled cricketers. He was a larger than life character, great fun and he was a great man to work with for 12 years.”

Taking to the skies

It was up, up and away as the Press Club celebrated its second annual high-flying evening of fun and food.

The event was held at Wellesbourne Airfield, near Stratford upon Avon, in junction with Take Flight Aviation Limited, which has been based there for over ten years. Its flying club and flight school operates 15 aircraft and offers flying lessons, flight training and light aircraft hire.

After a briefing session, members and guests from local media took to the skies over Warwickshire to enjoy some spectacular views – before settling down to tuck into drinks and a fish and chip supper on the flying club terrace.

To contact Take Flight Aviation log on to or phone 01789 470424

New venue for networking nights follows Press Club link-up

TWO of the oldest and most prestigious clubs in Birmingham are linking up. St Paul’s Club, formed in 1859 and the city’s oldest and only private dining club, and Birmingham Press Club - which dates back to 1865- will be working together in the future.

Birmingham Press Club, the oldest Press Club in the world, has been looking for a ‘home’ for many years – now it believes it has found the ideal location in St Paul’s Club.

Philip Barnet, President St Paul’s Club and Bob Warman, President of Birmingham Press Club exchange club ties.

Philip Barnet, President St Paul’s Club and Bob Warman, President of Birmingham Press Club exchange club ties.

Offering its members excellent dining, conference and office facilities as well as links to clubs in other parts of the UK and overseas, St Paul’s Club stands in a listed building in historic St Paul’s Square.

The great food and excellent facilities has caught the eye of the Press Club that runs an extensive programme of events including the prestigious Midland Media Awards. This has resulted in the Press Club reaching an agreement to adopt St Paul’s Club as its official home and a base for many of its meetings including the popular ‘first Thursday’ drop in sessions.

Members of Birmingham Press Club, which is sponsored by HSBC, will have the option of applying for membership of St Paul’s Club.

“St Paul’s Club is a fantastic treasure and the facilities are superb combined with its wonderful food, traditions and rooms that go back to an age of elegance and sophistication,” said Llewela Bailey, chairman of Birmingham Press Club.

Llewela was appointed last year as the first female chairman of the Press Club. One of the first members of St Paul’s Club she met was Sarah Whitticase who has just completed a two-year term as the first female President of St Paul’s Club.

Adrian Kibbler, a Director of Birmingham Press Club and member of St Paul’s Club with Sarah Whitticase, a past President of St Paul’s Club

Adrian Kibbler, a Director of Birmingham Press Club and member of St Paul’s Club with Sarah Whitticase, a past President of St Paul’s Club

Philip Barnett, the new President of St Paul’s Club says the link up with Birmingham Press Club is excellent news. “Both clubs have a great history and are working to make sure that the traditions continue in a modern setting that meets the needs of members in the early 21st century,” he said. “This will I am sure be good for both clubs.”

Membership of Birmingham Press Club is open to journalists and non-journalists and an application can be made by visiting Membership of St Paul’s Club is by nomination and election. More information is available from Mike Gold, general manager, whose email is

FOR further information please contact Adrian Kibbler, telephone: 07831 690940, email:

From left: Katie Cohen of HSBC, the main sponsor of Birmingham Press Club, Bob Warman, President of Birmingham Press Club, Philip Barnet, President of St Paul’s Club, Sarah Whitticase, a past President of St Paul’s Club and Llewella Bailey, Chairman of Birmingham Press Club

From left: Katie Cohen of HSBC, the main sponsor of Birmingham Press Club, Bob Warman, President of Birmingham Press Club, Philip Barnet, President of St Paul’s Club, Sarah Whitticase, a past President of St Paul’s Club and Llewella Bailey, Chairman of Birmingham Press Club


Jobs to be axed at Birmingham Mail

Media website Hold The Front Page revealed today (5 September) that editorial jobs are set to be lost as part of a pilot which will see the Birmingham Mail’s online operation become
independent from the print product.

The Mail’s website is set to be rebranded as Birmingham Live in a move which will also see the title’s journalists return to the city centre after ten years at their current Fort Dunlop home.

Publisher Trinity Mirror says the changes will see a “small net reduction in the number of newsroom roles” in Birmingham as a result, although it has declined to say how many. However, the company says a number of new print-only content roles are being created to write mainly for the Mail, as well as some new commercial and IT roles designed to “expand
Trinity Mirror’s reach” in the city.

The new approach will allow Birmingham Live the “latitude to throw all of its resources into one big story for a whole day if that is what its audiences want, without worrying about filling the next day’s paper”.

The publisher has started a period of consultation with affected staff over what it describes as “significant” changes in working practices and culture involving rotas and job descriptions.

In a statement, the company said the changes were aimed at creating “a completely standalone, profitable and sustainable digital business.”

“The new ‘Birmingham Live’ brand presents an opportunity to reach a wider range of audiences, communities and advertisers than that currently served by the Birmingham Mail,” it said. “The Mail, like other Trinity Mirror newsrooms, adopted the ‘digital first’ approach three
years ago, but teams have remained integrated. This new structure is designed to reflect the increasingly divergent needs of digital and print audiences.”

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Mail editor Marc Reeves (pictured) said “This is an extremely important step for the Birmingham region. The city is the youngest and most diverse in the UK, with a massive appetite for digital news and information.

“Birmingham Live is our response to this, and a bold move to take the initiative to create a sustainable digital journalism business. Regrettably a number of jobs will go as we restructure. However, if the model we’re building is successful, we will be employing more journalists and serving more readers than would be the case if we sat back and did nothing.

“One of the most exciting aspects of the change is our long-overdue move back into the city centre after ten years in our current base at Fort Dunlop. I know this will be welcomed in the city and will go a long way to help us connect with our readers.”

The Mail has been based at Fort Dunlop, near the M6, since 2008. Prior to that it was headquartered in the city’s Colmore business district.

MMA judges line-up

Experienced journalists, broadcasters, photographers and bloggers will be on the final judging panel for this year’s Midlands Media Award.

Chairman of the judging panel is Daily Mail columnist and Consultant Editor Andrew Pierce, who started his journalistic career in the Midlands.

Joining Andrew on the judging panel will be:

  •  Beth Goodrham, former lawyer, now personal stylist, TV presenter and founder of daily blog, Style Guile
  •  Bob Calver, senior lecturer in journalism at BCU. Former news editor of a public sector news site, ex-magazine editor and former BBC reporter, producer and news editor.
  • Chris James, ex-BBC and ITV newsreader and reporter, now managing director of Made in Birmingham TV
  • John James, award-winning photographer formerly with Birmingham Post & Mail. Now, in-demand freelance.
  • John Lamb, ex-Fleet Street journalist now Press & PR director at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
  • Katie Cohen, former corporate and financial PR, now with HSBC media relations team in Birmingham
  • Marc Kirsten, former newspaper photographer, now specialising in commercial photography and freelancing for newspapers and magazines
  • Paul Fulford, journalist and blogger, specialising in writing for the food and drink sector
  • Peter Brookes, senior Staffordshire University lecturer in sports journalist, former television news editor and ex-managing director of Manchester United TV
  • Richard Lutz, ex-newspaper journalist, TV news editor and documentary maker who now runs his own media training company
  • Stacey Barnfield, ex-editor of Birmingham Post, now director of Edwin Ellis Creative Media


John Lamb

John Lamb

Les in the Editor’s Chair

Les Reid

Les Reid

An award-winning reporter who has worked for both daily and weekly titles on his hometown patch has gained his first editorship. Les Reid, pictured here after his success at the Midlands Media Awards in 2013, won multiple awards in his former role as political reporter of the Coventry Telegraph before leaving the paper in 2014.

He later joined free weekly rival the Coventry Observer where he continued to carry out a series of investigations into the running of Coventry City Football Club as well as the city council.

Les has now been promoted from the role of deputy editor at the Bullivant Media-owned title to the editor’s chair.

While at the Coventry Telegraph, Les was named Columnist of the Year at the Regional Press Awards for 2012 and was also Midlands Journalist of the Year in both 2012 and 2013, having achieved success at the Birmingham Press Club-organised events.

Earlier this year, Les he was shortlisted at the Regional Press Awards in the weekly sports journalist of the year category.

Meanwhile, the Birmingham Mail’s advance sports content writer Aidan McCartney is now on secondment at Devon Live, while Express & Star reporter Nathan Briant has left the Wolverhampton-based daily to join the Oxford Mail as local government reporter. Katrina Chilver is a new recruit at the Leicester Mercury, joining as  digital journalist/assistant digital editor from sister title the Coventry Telegraph where she was a reporter.