In-depth reporting on the rising sport of female boxing helped a journalism student to secure a media industry accolade. Rachel Wheatley received a commendation in the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) 2016 Awards for Excellence.
The awards scheme is run by the news industry training and standards body to recognise high achievements by rising stars of journalism.
Rachel is studying for an NCTJ Certificate of Higher Education in Journalism at Wrexham Glyndwr University while working as a reporter for Wrexham.com and Deeside.com. She can also be heard reading news bulletins on Chester’s Dee 106.3 radio station.
She received the commendation after being nominated alongside two others in the shortlist for the ceremony’s Sports News Journalist of the Year award.
Rachel said: I was the only female nominated in my particular group and the guys I was up against work on the sports desks at The Daily Mail and The Telegraph, so to come third in the Sports Journalist of the Year category is a huge honour for me.
“To also beat over 235 entrants, which is the highest number of entrees the NCTJ have ever received, was also a great achievement,” added Rachel, who lists motorsport, boxing and tennis as her favourite sports.
“It feels amazing to be commended, as it makes all the hard work worth it. A lot of time and effort went into the three boxing articles I was nominated for, which brought about a new found respect and enthusiasm in me for the sport.
“Perhaps the fact I was a female sports journalist covering a story about a female boxer in what is a violent and predominantly male sport, made the judges sit up and take note. If it’s never been done before, then I can see why the judges singled me out.”
Rachel holds a BA (Hons) degree in French, Spanish and Drama from the University of the West of England, Bristol, and has worked in the media for more than 10 years.
As well as innovative human interest features in the North Wales Newspapers series of titles – including The Leader – her professional interests focus on social issues, with current projects including research into domestic violence, which has gained support and contribution from MPs in the region.
She hopes to present her findings to the Welsh Government next year, in a bid to shine a light on the issue and, hopefully, affect policy decisions.
The NCTJ Awards for Excellence were presented by BBC News deputy political editor John Pienaar (pictured with Rachel) in a ceremony at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport.
Wrexham Glyndwr University’s Certificate of Higher Education in Journalism is available to study part time over one or two years.