Soccer writer to kick off new career

Award-winning Express & Star journalist Tim Spiers is off to pastures new after more than ten years with the Wolverhampton-based newspaper.

Tim, pictured here after receiving the 2018 Sports Journalist of the Year Trophy at the Birmingham Press Club-organised Midlands Media Awards, told his followers on Twitter: “Delighted to say I’m still going to be covering Wolves full-time in a very exciting new venture.”

Media website HTFP understands that Tim, together with James Pearce from the Liverpool Echo and Phil Hay from the Yorkshire Evening Post will all be taking up new roles at US-owned The Athletic, which eventually could create more than 50 new journalist jobs in the UK.

The Athletic was originally launched in Chicago three years ago to cover the city’s sports teams. It has since expanded its paywall operation to hire journalists based in 50 cities across North America.

It is believed The Athletic’s new UK edition will initially cover football, mainly Premier League clubs, and focus on content such as “long reads,” features and opinions rather than match reports, transfer stories or player ratings.

The Athletic’s American edition, which charges $9.99 (£7.86) a month, currently offers dedicated pages for six English football clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. It is expected that similar rates in the UK will allow subscribers access to all content from here and over the Atlantic.

Launch of “exciting” business website

The Birmingham Post’s website has been discontinued and replaced with a new nationwide business news platform from its parent company, Reach plc. But the publishers of the Post say that its print edition, which ten years ago switched from a daily to a weekly, will not be affected by the change.

Figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) suggest that between January and December of last year the Post had an average circulation per issue of 2,545.

Reach plc, formerly Trinity Mirror, launched its new digital brand, BusinessLive this month (June 2019) with stories being written by business writers from its regional titles around the country.

The new site is being edited by Alistair Houghton, executive business editor at the Liverpool Echo, while journalist Tamlyn Jones (pictured) will lead its Birmingham coverage.

The Post reported that the “exciting new business website” would bring together business news from Greater Birmingham, the West Midlands and across the UK, offering the best coverage of local business markets and key business sectors nationally, from manufacturing to property and “everything in between.”

It promised that BusinessLive – an “inspiring, informed and inquisitive” platform - would shine a spotlight on the entrepreneurs, stars of the future and the small firms that were the backbone of the economy, with its Birmingham team continuing to bring to its audience detailed, consistent and informed business news.

Reach plc’s print products, the Birmingham Mail, Birmingham Post and Sunday Mercury will continue to provide coverage of the city’s news, politics, regional affairs and sport.

Studio Secrets Exposed

The secrets of the sound-room – including how to make the rustling of disregarded cassette tapes sound more like the sea than the sea itself – were laid bare when Birmingham Press Club members visited the studios at BBC Birmingham.

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Tour guides John Wiley and Emma O’Brien delivered a fascinating insight into preparations for recording The Archers – the world’s oldest-running radio soap – and took guests on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Midlands Today and BBC WM studios.

For Press Club president Bob Warman and club chairman Llewela Bailey – who for many years co-hosted ITV Central News - there was a “deja vu” moment as they were “re-united” on the sofa; albeit the one normally occupied by either Mary Rhodes or Nick Owen on Midlands Today!

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Thanks to the delights of broadcasting technology, guests were also able to pose, Shefali Oza-style, as on-screen weather presenters  - and enjoyed a headphones moment behind the microphones of BBC WM, as well as experiencing an interactive exhibition in the BBC Blue Room.

Photography: Adrian Kibbler

Standard kicks off Sajid’s campaign

Prime Minister-wannabe Sajid Javid has used his local newspaper, the Bromsgrove Standard, to announce his bid to succeed Theresa May.

The Home Secretary (pictured) exclusively revealed his candidacy for the Tory leadership, saying it was “fitting” that his constituents were the first to know.

The Standard was contacted by Bromsgrove MP Mr Javid’s office and subsequently broke the news on its website.

Speaking to media website HTFP, Standard editor Tristan Harris said: “I received the call from Sajid’s office saying as his constituents were the ones who had enabled him to become an MP, it was only right that they be the first to know he would be putting himself forward to be leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party. We were delighted Sajid had chosen to give the Standard his statement exclusively and to be able put the news out there first on our website.

“We have a great relationship with the MP, having officially backed and promoted his annual jobs fair, pensioners’ fair and the yearly schools debating competition which I’ve been on the judging panel of ever since he introduced it.”

He added: “We wish him well with his leadership challenge. Sajid becoming Prime Minister would be a great way to put Bromsgrove on the map.

“It shows the importance and key role local journalism plays in communities and it’s fantastic our town’s MP, current Home Secretary and possibly the future Prime Minister also supports that view “

Free Bikes Launch Backed by HSBC UK

A programme that will help hundreds of children from across Birmingham onto two wheels by providing free bikes and equipment has been launched by HSBC UK and British Cycling, alongside The Active Wellbeing Society.

The programme aims to reach children within the top ten per cent most disadvantaged communities of the city, to ensure that, regardless of their background, children have access to a bike and can embrace the joys and health benefits of cycling. 


The initiative comes hot on the heels of the successful Velo Birmingham and Midlands event where 17,000 people rode up to 100 miles, and in advance of the Birmingham Lets Ride event that will see a 4km route around Birmingham City.


The Big Birmingham Bikes programme is being rolled out to children aged 15 or under. A Bikeability session was run for pupils and recipients of the first tranche of bikes being given out.


The scheme, which is funded by HSBC UK and British Cycling, is delivered by The Active Wellbeing Society and will provide hundreds of children aged 15 or under in and around Birmingham with the basics to get them onto two wheels; a bike, helmet and a pump.


Shanaze Reade, Olympian and cycling world champion and West Midlands Cycling and Walking Ambassador, seen here at the launch with two recipients of Big Birmingham Bikes, said: “Initiatives like this are fundamental to ensuring that children – regardless of who they are or where they come from - are given the opportunity to learn how to cycle. It’s easy to forget that a lot of kids simply don’t have access to a bike and schemes like this help to break down these barriers and ensure that cycling is something that can be enjoyed by all, no matter what your background.


“There are so many benefits to riding a bike – from physical and mental health, to the environment – and by providing hundreds of free bikes and equipment to children across the city, HSBC UK and British Cycling are contributing towards a healthier, fitter and greener nation which is something that should be applauded.”


Luke Harper, HSBC UK’s Head of the British Cycling partnership said: “Our partnership with British Cycling is particularly focused on grassroots participation, encouraging and supporting communities, colleagues and customers to get onto two wheels, contributing to greener, fitter, healthier Britain. This fantastic scheme that will make a real difference to youngsters in disadvantaged communities in Birmingham who might not have the opportunity to own a bike of their own.”


Nick Hayes, Head of Commercial Partnerships at British Cycling, said: “Our partnership with HSBC UK intends to make a real impact on society and ultimately create a shift in culture towards a greener, fitter healthier nation. This initiative in Birmingham will ensure that 500 bikes are given to children at schools and communities in some of the most deprived areas of the city and is a shining example of those values coming to life.”

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 “In a year where Yorkshire is set to host the UK’s biggest sporting event of the year – the UCI Road World Championships – we want to ensure that every child in Britain, regardless of their background, is given the opportunity to ride a bike. And this programme is just one of the ways that we will make this happen.”

 Karen Creavin, Chief Executive at The Active Wellbeing Society said "The Active Wellbeing Society has established networks of community cycle collaboration in the most deprived communities throughout Birmingham, working hard to build a pathway for children and families to get into cycling. We aim to improve the health and wellbeing of children, young people and families by removing the barriers that prevent them being active and we aim to particularly encourage uptake from the communities in most need. We are delighted to work with HSBC UK and British Cycling to bring this vital project to life, and we look forward to lots more people in our city enjoying the freedom and joy of riding a bike".


Bike Banks will be free to use for anyone aged 15 and under (with parent or guardian’s consent).


Since HSBC UK – sponsor of Birmingham Press Club - became lead partner to British Cycling in 2017, the partnership has made a real difference to grassroots cycling, including:


-        Over 200,000 people taking part in our closed road, mass participation events in some of Britain’s biggest cities over the last two years (110,000 in 2017 and 113,500 in 2018). An even bigger schedule of events is planned for 2019.


-        British Cycling has opened a number of new HSBC UK Disability Hubs, including Middlesbrough, Stourport and Clyde, taking the total number of such facilities up to 12. HSBC UK Disability Hubs give people with disabilities the opportunity to take part in coach-led sessions, which develop their skills and confidence on a bike.


-        Work to narrow the traditional gender gap in cycling has also accelerated, with the flagship HSBC UK Breeze programme - a ride for women led by women - going from strength to strength - in 2018, over 300 new Breeze Champions were trained, bringing the total number to over 1,260.


-        The HSBC UK Breeze programme has attracted nearly 250,000 participants since its inception eight years ago. Across the entire suite of recreational programmes, 45.2% of participants are now women.


-        The HSBC UK Ready Set Ride initiative equips parents and teachers with the necessary resources to teach kids to ride.


 Photo credit: Ian Tennant

Journalists facing online abuse

Appalling online abuse of journalists is now becoming the “new normal,” according to Coventry Telegraph editor Keith Perry. He hit out at social media users after former Telegraph chief reporter Simon Gilbert, who now works as a political reporter for the BBC, received “vile and disgusting” abuse from football supporters after running an exclusive about their club.

Simon broke a story about Sisu, which owns Coventry City Football Club, going to the European Commission with a legal complaint over the sale of the Ricoh Arena stadium to rugby club Wasps.

Wasps subsequently pulled out of talks to allow City to continue to play at the stadium, saying they had previously been unaware of the complaint, meaning the football club may have to play home matches away from Coventry next season.

After the story’s publication, Simon revealed on Twitter he had received abuse from some fans of City, nicknamed the Sky Blues. In an editorial in defence of Simon, Keith (pictured) wrote: “The very thought of the Sky Blues leaving this city again is awful and we all know the damage it could cause to the club and the city. Many will be in an unforgiving mood after having their hopes raised and then dashed.

“City fans are emotionally invested in their club in a way no set of accounts could ever record so a level of anger is to be expected but the temptation to shoot the messenger is ridiculous and misplaced. Worse than that a tiny, vocal minority have barged reasonable debate out of the way to launch vile and disgusting abuse at the journalist who broke the story.

“Our former Telegraph colleague Simon Gilbert is clearly a good journalist, he was our chief reporter before joining the BBC, but the notion that he managed to find out about the EC complaint before Wasps did is just laughable. The idea that any media outlet has ruined the talks that we all thought were leading to a happy resolution is simply ludicrous.”

He added: “That it has now led to the vicious abuse of a journalist doing his best to keep fans informed is incredibly sad.”

Keith then turned his attention to the “increased hostility towards journalists” in general, including those currently working at the Telegraph. He wrote: “Our journalists now spend a large chunk of their working lives in the social media arena. We interact with our audience, bringing a new level of transparency to what we do as we in turn seek transparency from those who hold power.

“It helps us put you at the heart of what we do and we appreciate that you can give us a real-world perspective that can sometimes be lost in a media bubble. But abuse of reporters, some of it truly appalling, is fast becoming the new normal. If we allow that happen, what’s next?”

No More “Up with the Lark” for presenter Ed

He’s been hosting the breakfast show on Heart West Midlands for the last 18 years – but now at last

there’s no more getting up at 4.30 in the morning for radio presenter Ed James.

Instead, as a result of shake-up plans by Global to launch UK-wide national breakfast shows on

Capital, Heart and Smooth radio, Ed – and his co-presenter Gemma Hill – will be moving to the Drive

Time slot.

Ed, immediate-past chairman of Birmingham Press Club, said:  “As of Monday 3 June I hope everyone

will be listening to us on their way home from work or school.

“I’ve been hosting Heart Breakfast for 18 years and have had the best time. But I’m genuinely looking

forward to not getting up at 4.30 am!

“I feel lucky to be doing what I think is the best job in the world and I am really excited for the future

of Heart.”

Meanwhile, Ed has been busy cementing the future of specialist marketing company, the HDY

Agency, which he co-founded last July with marketer Angel Gaskell (pictured here). “Some massive

things are happening – and I’ll finally be launching a secret project I’ve been working on for eight

years,” said Ed.

Based in Digbeth, HDY’s 12-strong team specialises in developing creative campaigns and has just

been taken on board as the lead creative and marketing partner of Other clients include

Resorts World Birmingham, World Skills UK, Damson Homes and Saga. Team members include

industry experts within digital and email marketing, design, brand development, PR and social media.

 Heart’s brand-new breakfast show will, from 3 June, be hosted by Jamie Theakston and

Amanda Holden. Global founder Ashley Tabor said: “This is a huge moment for Heart and

Global as we launch the largest morning show in commercial radio.”

Mike’s a Winner – Again!

THE Birmingham Mail’s Mike Lockley has been named Britain’s Columnist of the Year (weekly) at the prestigious Regional Press Awards – the ‘Oscars’ of the industry. And the Mail itself has been recognised as one of the best regional newspapers in the UK.

The judges of the awards, which attracted more than 800 entries, were knocked out by a portfolio of Mike’s trademark comment columns from the Mail and Sunday Mercury.

“With an easy and entertaining style, Mike Lockley uses well-crafted comedy and anecdote to make telling points,” they said. “Judges praised the column for consistently hitting the mark.”

It was the third award of the year for Mike, who had been highly commended in the Reporter of the Year category, and who won the Headline of the Year trophy, at the recent Midlands Media Awards.

At the 2017 Birmingham Press Club-organised Midlands Media Awards Mike was acknowledged as the News Reporter of the Year (Weekly) in addition to winning The President’s Award for “showing all-year round consistency.”

At the Regional Press Awards, held on Friday, 17 May, which celebrated the very best in journalism, the Birmingham Mail was highly commended in the Newspaper of the Year category, judges remarking on its “diet of news, sport and features”, and “independent identity”. The Mail’s digital sister, BirminghamLive, went on to scoop more honours at the ceremony staged at London’s IET.

BirminghamLive won the Reporting Communities Award for the website’s coverage of, and features on, Ramadan masterminded by Sarah Probert and David Bentley. It was, said the judges, “well-crafted coverage focusing on major festivals in the Muslim calendar. The BirminghamLive team wrote a live blog on community celebrations in Small Heath Park, the largest in Europe, which helped inform the wider readership of the event and its background.”

And BrumFeeds, which successfully collected a mountain of goods for the city’s foodbanks was highly commended in the Campaign of the Year section.

Run by BirminghamLive’s Annette Belcher, and supported by the Birmingham Mail, judges said: “This was a superbly executed campaign bringing to life the stories of real people forced to rely on food banks, many due to Universal Credit. Striking a chord with readers through social media engagement, BrumFeeds more than doubled its original food donation target.”

Appearing elsewhere on the shortlists was The Lonely Death Of Janet Parker – Mail content editor Andy Richards’ examination of the world’s last smallpox death in Birmingham – making both the Supplement of the Year and Overall Digital Award categories for what judges called “a hugely ambitious digital storytelling project, a fantastic podcast series the judges said was the highest quality in every respect.”

BirminghamLive’s Stephanie Balloo was shortlisted as one of Britain’s best young reporters. “Combining a variety of sources with great use of video skills, she has proven herself a talented emerging multi-platform journalist,” judges said. “Compelling stories on anti-social behaviour were strengthened with well-chosen crime data and video clips.”

There was also praise for the Mail’s sister-publication, Sunday Mercury, too, as the newspaper appeared as a shortlisted finalist. “The Sunday Mercury celebrated its centenary in 2018,” judges said. “A century on, the paper still lives up to its reputation for big exclusives, investigations and human interest stories.”

Highly commended kin the Weekly Photographer category was Mark Williamson, from the Stratford Herald, who, in 2016, won the News Photographer of the Year Award at the Midlands Media Awards.

PHOTO:  Mike Lockley (right) receiving his trophy at the Regional Press Awards

A Networking Night To Bank On

HSBC UK’s new award-winning £170 million 10-storey national headquarters building - located at Centenary Square, Birmingham and now home to 2,500 staff - is to play host to Birmingham Press Club’s Networking Night on Wednesday 5 June.

To book your place, please e-mail by Wednesday, 29 May.

Club members will be given a conducted tour of the HSBC University, an advanced teaching facility that offers opportunities for HSBC employees in the UK and Europe to train, learn skills and obtain qualifications. Bank executives have forecast that the University will be a “significant magnet of talent” over the next 20 years.

The University “campus” includes a 110-person lecture theatre and connected classrooms, an Innovation Lab for workshops and idea generation, 17 training rooms and “The Market Place” – a dedicated dining area.

Also, members of the bank’s Archives Team will show guests the Heritage Display on Level 2 - showcasing HSBC’s history from its roots in Hong Kong through to the present day – and the digital war memorial positioned in the reception area.

In the 2019 RICS Annual Awards for the West Midlands, where a diverse range of the region’s most impressive and community beneficial property schemes battled it out for top honours, the HSBC UK headquarters won the Commercial Category.

The judges, who said they were “amazed” by the building as a bespoke solution to the demands of new banking regulations, added that it provided a “fitting solution” at the heart of the bank’s birthplace in Birmingham city centre. They said that the building – delivered by Arcadis, Make Architects and Galliford Try – “sets a very high benchmark for HSBC’s global portfolio to aspire to.”

The RICS said that the strength of HSBC UK's commitment, its involvement throughout the process and the high quality of the final delivered product, demonstrated a strong partnership, which had delivered significant gains for all parties.

  • HSBC UK”s chief executive Ian Stuart and senior members of the bank’s media team will be in attendance to meet Press Club guests on the building’s Level 10 Terrace, with its impressive views over the Birmingham skyline, for a reception which commences at 6 pm.

  • HSBC UK has been the Press Club’s main sponsor for the last three years.


Remembering the Lambs great cup win

A Staffordshire weekly newspaper has successfully located nine footballers who secured a trophy triumph for its patch 30 years ago.

The Tamworth Herald – twice voted Newspaper of the Year at the Press Club-organised Midlands Media Awards – produced a special supplement to mark three decades since Tamworth FC won the FA Vase, the national competition for clubs playing in the lower reaches of England’s non-league pyramid.

Sports editor Matt Panter had worked over the past months to trace as many of those involved in the victory for the club as he could – even managing to get a phone interview with manager Graham Smith from his home in Cyprus.

Former Herald staff, ex-sports editor Sam Holliday and photographer Paul Barber, were also involved in the production of the 16-page supplement.

Search for “Lost Clickers” of WW2

Second World War veterans and their families are being asked by a Birmingham manufacturer to help locate the “Lost Clickers'” of the D-Day landings.

ACME Whistles, founded in 1870 by brothers Joseph and James Hudson, is working with The Royal British Legion on the mission to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The company, which makes the traditional Birmingham Press Club bugles that are awarded to Honorary Life Members, is searching for the original “Clickers” that were issued to the American Airborne Division as a vital piece of survival equipment.

Paratroopers were dropped into darkness behind enemy lines on the night before D-Day. If they were not alone when they landed, or later detected someone close by, they were to click once with two clicks in reply meaning friend and no response meaning something else. It was assumed that Clickers would be captured and even replicated so they were to be used for 24 hours only and after that banned completely.

ACME, which is based in Hockley, said many replica and counterfeit Clickers had been found but very few genuine originals had ever been seen. Around 7,000 Clickers were made during the six-month period immediately before D-Day in 1945 with some nickel-plated but other just left in plain brass to ensure there was time for every Clicker to be individually tested in time for D-Day.

ACME said the genuine originals would have tell-tale features that only it would recognise.

Simon Topman (pictured), who is managing director of the company, said: "During World War II, ACME played a vital role in the war effort. There was no commercial trade as production was given over entirely to making whistles for the war effort and, of course, Clickers.

"The factory itself was bombed when incendiary bombs were dropped and one found its way down the lift shaft, exploding in the cellar. Whistles were sent raining out into the streets of Birmingham, a third of the factory was demolished, but so essential were its products that it was rebuilt in just four days.

"We have people contact us regularly with ACME Thunderers, Metropolitan Police Whistles, Artillery Whistles and Infantry Whistles that were used in World War II but never a Clicker.

“Perhaps your Great Grandad was a D-Day veteran; maybe he has a box of war medals where it could lie unknown. Maybe an elderly neighbour is a widow od a D-Day veteran who doesn’t realise the significance of the unassuming Clicker,” he added.

Catherine Davies, head of remembrance at The Royal British Legion, said: "D-Day marked a turning point in the Second World War and changed the course of history. As we commemorate 75 years since the Normandy landings it's great to see organisations such as ACME find ways to thank this special generation and we look forward to seeing what the search for the lost Clickers unveils."

ACME is planning to hold a commemorative day for veterans, friends and family who find any of the Clickers.

For more details about the initiative contact Ben McFarlane on email or call 0121 554 2124.

Drop-In Night at the BBC

Birmingham Press Club’s Networking Night in May is taking place at BBC Birmingham at The Mailbox – providing members with a guided tour behind the scenes of its TV and radio studios.

So if you are a fan of Midlands Today, BBC WM and The Archers – the world’s longest-running soap opera – then this is for you.

“The tour also presents an opportunity to learn about BBC Three and discover what it takes to put together high quality news bulletins every day and how BBC drama is made,” said Jenny Wilkes, Partnership & Events Manager, BBC Midlands.

For fans of The Archers, which has been produced in Birmingham ever since it began in 1950, there will also be a chance to visit a special exhibition that showcases the history, milestone moments and celebrity fans of the radio institution. On display will be some of the real-life objects used to create the drama’s special soundscape.

If you want to book your place on the tour on 21 May please email The tour will commence at 7 pm, preceded by a reception at 6 pm.

For security purposes, visitors must bring with them photo-ID.

“Changing times” means Anton’s column is no more

An East Midlands journalist says his award-winning newspaper column has been axed because his print piece wouldn’t get enough clicks online.

Anton Rippon (pictured) first worked for the Derby Telegraph in 1965 and has written a column for the paper since 1999. Now he has revealed that last Wednesday’s column was his last for the paper, claiming he was told his success “is now judged purely on website page views not print sales.”

Anton, who was named Newspaper Columnist of the Year in 2017 at the Birmingham Press Club-organised Midlands Media Awards, has written more than 1,000 weekly columns for the Telegraph since 1999, and has also produced a weekly Derby County FC piece and supplied sport and general news features to the paper over the past 10 years.

Until this week he also produced the paper’s weekly eight-page nostalgia supplement with his author daughter Nicola.

Anton told the Sports Journalists’ Association: “I’ve been told that success is now judged purely on website page views not print sales. “My column might be popular with newspaper readers, but it’s thought that if it went online it wouldn’t get enough clicks.

“So my contract has ended. It is a most amicable parting, though. Times change. Life moves on.”

Anton worked as a reporter for what was then the Derby Evening Telegraph and as a feature writer for the Nottingham Evening Post before going freelance in 1981.

He covered the Midlands and South Yorkshire football beats for the Sunday Telegraph, wrote for The TimesThe Independent and The Guardian, and worked for BBC local radio before launching Breedon Books in 1984.

Anton added: “I have a great affection for the Derby paper which I first joined in 1965. It’s been a privilege to work with so many talented journalists, in particular the current sports department.

“On top of the Derby Telegraph and Burton Mail sport pages, I’m told they are taking on more responsibility for Nottingham Post sport pages with Leicester Mercury sport pages further down the line. They are one of the best regional sports teams in the country.

“I started in the days of manual typewriters and scrounging a telephone, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. There are now different ways of delivering news, but print editions giving readers good local content and building up trust with them could still prosper given a chance.

“A few years ago I saw a cartoon where a youngster is asking an old journalist: ‘You mean you used to take what was on your website and print it on paper?’ It was funny then, but, regionally at least, print is now becoming a neglected afterthought.

“The other day I was telling a young reporter that we called the stop-press the ‘fudge’. He said: ‘Sorry, what was the stop-press?’ So maybe it’s time for me to go. I’m not retiring, though. I’ve signed contracts for four books for a major publisher over the next three years.”

If you go down in the woods…

Press Club members are in for a treat – a “private viewing” of a picturesque four-acre bluebell wood that annually raises money for charity.

This year, the attraction, which is owned by Press Club director Peter Brookes and his wife Jen, will be open during the weekend of 6-7 May for the National Garden Scheme. But Club members will get their “exclusive” look on Sunday, 28 April – which should be the height of the bluebell season.

The wood will be open from 11 am until 1 pm – with visitors being provided with tea and coffee.

“But if visitors want something stronger can they please bring their own bottle of booze. I wouldn’t want to empty Jen’s gin store!” said Peter.

He added: “It is a quintessentially English scene – the bluebells cascade down our natural river banks to Smestow Brook, which joins the River Stour nearby. There are almost four acres of bluebells, forming a blue carpet between the trees and experts tell us the bluebells may date back a thousand years.


“The river bank shows evidence of quarrying – thought to be the site of ancient nail-making pre-dating the Industrial Revolution.  And there’s plenty of wildlife – if you are lucky you may spot the Kingfishers swooping over the stream,” said Peter.

The offer is free to Press Club members. But if you plan to visit during the National Garden Scheme weekend expect to pay! More than 1,000 people have visited the woods in the last three years.


Please note the woods contain a couple of steep paths, which are not suitable for wheelchairs. Strong footwear is recommended.

The location is Keeper’s Cottage, 24, Greensforge Lane, Stourton, Stourbridge, DY7 5BB

If you are planning to attend please email Peter at - so that he can organise catering and car parking.



From the A449 Wolverhampton to Kidderminster Road, take the A458 turning, signposted Bridgnorth. Greensforge Lane is the first turning on your right (about half a mile).

Peter’s house is about half a mile down the lane on the right – there will be a sign outside the house welcoming Press Club members.


A University of Gloucestershire student carried off the top award at the Midlands Media Student Awards, held in Birmingham on 10 April.

Hesham Abdelhamid (pictured), who lives in Cheltenham, took the Student of the Year accolade after having collected the Features Category trophy earlier in the evening.

The awards, organised by Birmingham Press Club to acknowledge the achievements of next-generation journalists, broadcasters and photographers, attracted several hundred entries from universities and colleges from the East and West Midlands. The awards ceremony was held at Mama Roux’s leisure venue in Digbeth, hosted by BBC Radio WM presenter Alex Noble.

Headline sponsor was Amazon UK Services Ltd, whose Community Relations Manager, Neil Williams, presented the Student of the Year trophy.  He said: “This has been a tremendous opportunity to work with the Birmingham Press Club to both encourage aspiring journalists and recognise the best emerging talent. It’s great to see the world’s oldest press club looking to the future with the Midlands Media Students’ Awards, which we’re delighted to support.”

Further sponsorship support came from HSBC UK, the Press Club’s overall sponsor, and the Universities of Birmingham City, De Montfort, Gloucestershire, Northampton and Worcester.

The judges likened Hesham’s work to what they would expect from a “seasoned journalist working in the profession for years.”

Hesham ( is co-founder of a magazine that has been acknowledged as the “fastest growing student publication of 2018.”

His award-winning portfolio – praised for its thorough planning and research - tackled serious subjects such as professional humility, an aspect of conflict within society and the fascination with the trend of creating fake news. The judges said that his self-confessed experimental, emotional, funny and sassy style of writing made them all the more entertaining.

Commenting on one of his feature entries, Hesham said:  “Following a negative experience at a networking conference, I wrote a long-form feature on why, being humble in the way you describe yourself as a professional/creative and letting your work speak for itself, is the best way to get noticed in any saturated industry.”

In an unprecedented move in the highly competitive Sport Category, the judges named three students – Molly Hudson (Staffordshire University) Adam Barker and David Wainwright (both University of Derby) – as joint winners.

Birmingham Press Club chairman Llewela Bailey said: “Many well-known names in the media world have kick-started their careers after having successfully negotiated their courses at Midland universities and colleges. And I have no doubt that those who entered our awards will be following in their footsteps. The standard of submitted work was truly outstanding – a real credit to the lecturers who are helping to craft their careers.”



Winner: Lucy Ryan, Birmingham City University, for her epic series “The Lonely Death of Janet Parker,” all about the world’s last recorded smallpox fatality, which occurred in Birmingham in 1978.The judges said it was thoroughly researched, well edited, with proportionate use of both first hand accounts and expert analysis. A tragic series of events turned into a compelling listen.

Highly commended: Ama Esson, University of Northampton, whose entry examined the link between Drill Music and street crime.



Winner: James Williams, of University of Lincoln, who demonstrated good story lines, good editing and audio in a presentation portfolio that was clearly well researched with excellent interviewees.  The judges said he showed real flair, presence and active involvement. They added that the results were a credit to the University, its lecturers and students.

Highly commended: Hafsa Naveed, Birmingham City University, whose well-researched, sensitively-approached documentary on forced marriage and honour-based abuse in the UK provided a telling insight into the lives of two women survivors

Highly Commended: Hannah Brown, University of Lincoln, for an excellent compilation of stories ranging from the disappearance of a city icon, the loss of an important public service, to a light-hearted look at New Year Resolutions.

Highly Commended: Katharyn Daniels, University of Lincoln, whose work included the opening of a Bomber Command memorial, a student-led initiative supporting young women and a look at the growing issue of food banks.



Winner: Kaylee Poloczek, University of Northampton, for a stand out entry with a documentary-style interview with two women who were part and parcel of gangland London in the Sixties – Maureen Flanagan, a Page 3 pin-up and hairdresser to Ronnie and Reggie Kray’s mother, and Veronica, the wife of rival gang boss Charlie Richardson. The judges especially liked the pre-interview footage of the women “adjusting” themselves for the camera. A 10-minute interview, which captured a lot about what the women did and didn’t know about the violent world around them.

Highly commended: Anisah Vasta & Abigail Nruah, Birmingham City University, for their interview with Sir Lenny Henry.

Highly commended: Lydia Johnson, Birmingham City University, for her blog on how she went about getting a placement on Cosmo magazine.



Winner: Victoria Oliveres, Birmingham City University, took the award in a category, which, like all others, was blessed with a very high standard of work.  In today’s “big data” age, there are those whose intention is to “hide” unwelcome truths – and it is a vital dimension of any journalist’s role in the 21st century to make sense of it all and uncover the stories that need telling. The judges said that using FOI details extracted from 26 police forces, Victoria produced a well-researched and comprehensive piece of work to reveal that online disability hate crimes had tripled in three years. Her entry displayed a new angle to the on-going issue of hate crime – with social media companies in the spotlight for their failure to monitor and block unacceptable content.

Highly Commended:  Sania Aziz, Birmingham City University, for her brave investigative piece of work into sexual assaults which occur within the so-called safe havens of university campuses.

Highly Commended:  Calum Archibald, Birmingham City University, who tackled the topical subject of calling upon football clubs to do more to support people with mental health issues.



Winner: Hesham Abdelhamid, of University of Gloucester, is co-founder of a magazine that won the accolade of “fastest growing student publication of 2018.”

His entry tackled serious subjects such as professional humility, an aspect of conflict within society and the fascination with the trend of creating fake news. But his self-confessed experimental, emotional, funny and sassy style of writing made them all the more entertaining. The judges said Hesham had demonstrated his skills in thoroughly planning out and researching compelling, and most of all, interesting features. His work, all about shedding light on something new, entices the reader into reading more.  The judges likened his work to what they would expect from a seasoned journalist working in the profession for years.

Highly Commended: Eve Smallman, of Nottingham Trent University. As editor-in-chief of the Students’ Union magazine, Eve is always on the look-out for a story that engages her readers – and she clearly demonstrates this skill with a compelling portfolio of articles, reflecting the serious, the sensitive and the fun side of life.

Highly Commended: Gurjeet Nanrah, of Nottingham Trent University, who produced an emotional story about a Muslim doctor whose great-grandfathers fought for the British Army in WW1 in a Punjabi Regiment – highlighting, the largely overlooked, sacrifice made by ethnic minorities for the British Empire. Also, an enthralling interview with a criminal defence lawyer whose career is highly successful – despite him being blind since the age of eight.

Highly Commended: James Williams, of University of Lincoln, who produced a radio documentary about Christianity in crisis; a TV feature on the use of 3G pitches in football and an example of a weekly local football review show.



Winner: Wan Ulfa Nur Zuhra, Birmingham City University, whose work stood out for its powerful mixture of investigative and data journalism on topical public interest issues. There was good analysis and strong human-interest angles, well crafted in an accessible writing style,

Highly commended Becky Tombs, University of Derby, for using her initiative in seeking the comments of customers on “rows of closed shops” and problems hitting small businesses.

Highly Commended: Elliott Hawkins, University of Lincoln, demonstrated his multi-platform skills with a hard news story on road deaths in Lincolnshire and a TV package on Lincoln City’s first visit to Wembley.

Highly commended: Lynn Butler, University of Wolverhampton, who came up with a fresh angle on the Enoch Powell blue plaque storm which gave her a page-lead in a print newspaper



Winner: Kirsty Hatton, University of Worcester, whose portfolio of street photography shots was all about observation and finding something interesting in everyday life. The judges said she had a good creative eye with a theme in mind, which was reflected in a set of well-composed images.

Highly Commended: Ellen Flannery, University of Worcester, whose photographs depicted the diverse and unique characters of “normal” people in their everyday working environment.



Winner: Adrienne Titley, of University of Worcester, for filming, editing and producing a documentary short on the severity of male suicide in the UK and what life is like for those left behind. Sadly, Adrienne’s father took his own life and the judges said this was a particularly brave decision to tackle a topic so close to home. Adrienne’s project was conducted during the final year of her journalism degree and since then she has campaigned vigorously to raise awareness of male suicide, appearing on TV and writing blogs for Huffington Post to highlight the alarming increase in suicide rates over the last four years. The judges said it was a powerful, hard-hitting and eye-opening video, lifted by its tone, use of graphics and crafted with real creativity.

Highly Commended; Ama Esson, of University of Northampton, for an in-depth investigation into whether it was fair of politicians to stand up in Parliament and blame the Drill music genre for a rise in knife crime



WINNER:  Beth Ennis & Katharyn Daniels, of University of Lincoln, whose 'Taboo' branded website tackles controversial topics and engages an impressive audience. One topic, about anti-vax campaigners was picked up by an Irish Times journalist who then started a debate of his own. The inclusion of readers comments in articles is exactly what modern newspapers and broadcasters and clambering to do. 

Highly Commended:  Thomas Smith, of University of Derby, who produced Instagram stories while working in Russia for the Football Supporters’ Federation and while covering the Under 17 Euro Football Championships in England.  Live Twitter updates following the helicopter tragedy at King Power Stadium completed his portfolio.



Winners:  Molly Hudson, Staffordshire University, who is now a freelance sports journalist with a specialism for women’s football. Her portfolio comprised of work published in the national media, including a medical-based feature and a more light-hearted contribution about two women footballers balancing their personal life with work commitments.

Adam Barker, a first-year football journalism student at the University of Derby, who submitted a variety of talented work about coaching, thoughts on Wayne Rooney’s legacy and a Norwich City match report.

David Wainwright, University of Derby, loves football and also has a passion for boxing – highlighted by two knockout interviews with heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte and Conor Blackshaw ahead of his challenge for the English flyweight title.

Highly Commended:  James Williams, of University of Lincoln, for a great all-round performance in written, video and radio format.

Highly commended: Sam Ogun, of University of Northampton, whose portfolio features a very worthy BAME football article.

Highly commended: Louis Mitchell, of University of Derby, whose excellent easy-to-read articles on the world of women’s football had the judges hooked

Highly Commended:  Thomas Jobson, of Staffordshire University, whose well-written portfolio included attention-grabbing articles on the journey to becoming a professional footballer (from the parents perspective) and youth trials and mental health.



Winner: Hesham Abdelhamid, of University of Gloucester, whose desire to make his features as entertaining as possible certainly worked wonders with the judges. They not only found his entry really entertaining and compelling but also highly professional. A polished performance.