A state school newspaper produced in just one week was highly commended in the national Shine School Media Awards.

Fearns Chat has been produced by since 2009, at first as an insert in the Rossendale Free Press when I was still news editor. After redundancy, it has been produced every year at the school and entered for the prestigious awards.

Three pupils from Fearns, along with the head and I, attended a glitzy ceremony in London at the beautiful historical Stationers’ Hall where the trio picked up a Highly Commended certificate in the Best Community Initiative category.

The trip was amazing and the pupils were honoured to be representing their school. Of the 170 schools that submitted publications to the awards, only 30 were selected as finalists. Fearns was the only state school in those 30, the remaining schools were fee-paying, grammar schools or independent academies.


No sooner had the London trip finished that the next Fearns Chat was in full production. I spent a week working with 13 Year 9s at Fearns Community Sports College to produce another excellent 16-page newspaper packed with news and information about the school year.

There was no shortage in news stories to be written for all three of my contracted schools either. Since my last blog 17 more stories have been written for Haslingden High School including page leads on a student skydiving in memory of an ex-pupil, swimmers dedicating their success to wishing a student well who was injured in the Manchester Arena bombing and the school’s duathlon stars being joint first in the school games in Lancashire.

A freelance story about Henry Farmer who starred in Billy Elliot appeared over four pages in July’s Lancashire Life.

At Whitworth Community High School another eight stories have been published including leads on the retirement of two members of staff after nearly 40 years service, a musician that helped his band to win a top prize and the school’s Fire Cadets holding a passing out service.

As well as producing the latest Fearns Chat – featured below – 12 more stories have been written for the school. Among the page leads in print are a story about a former pupil who has won a place at a prestigious stage school, the school’s new Head Boy and Head Girl and pupils on work experience.

The latest JJO Journal has been produced for J and J Ormerod along with a news story on the company’s record-breaking turnover achieved in spite of Brexit fears and a staff member raising money for the East Lancashire Down’s Syndrome Support Group.

My final contract is with Veterans In Communities where newsletters are produced monthly and news stories included a bus driver’s plans for a fundraising cycle and walk up the three highest peaks.

Termly school newspapers were completed at Britannia and Northern Primary Schools, and at Coal Clough Academy. All my school contracts and newspaper contracts have been renewed for a further year.

I took on a contract to promote Stacksteads Valley of Light Festival that will be held on Saturday October 28, my contract to promote Hyndburn Business Awards concluded in June with the award ceremony which featured in the Accrington Observer, Lancashire Telegraph and Acorn Community Magazine.

The first story for Rossendale Business Awards promotion has just been printed and the award ceremony will be on November 15.

Ad hoc news stories have been written and published for Wonderful Things and DansShed, which was a collaborative production between Dansworks and Cotton Shed Theatre Company.

Voluntary work included writing about the defibrillator installed in Weir thanks to a fundraising effort, a vilage fete for Kidney Research, Bacup and Stacksteads Carnival being a success in spite of the rain and Morrisons donating vouchers to Bacup Pride to offset the carbon footprint of the vehicles in the procession.

I am now in the middle of a major project with Wonderful Things, the out of school hours fun activity days programme. I am producing a newspaper with youth volunteers and will be running a News Day for children attending the scheme.

Meanwhile I was interviewed for a 5 Star documentary soon to be on Channel 5 about the murder of Sophie Lancaster When Kids Kill and also worked with researchers on the BBC1 production Murdered for being Different.

If you have a story to tell, then give me a bell.