Keeling named top newsman in O2 Awards

Emotional finale as murdered soldier’s parents praise regional press

The parents of murdered soldier Lee Rigby have named Manchester Evening News Chief Reporter Neal Keeling, as the North West’s leading news reporter in an emotional finale to this year’s O2 Media Awards.


Lyn and Ian Rigby from Greater Manchester joined other special guests at the Imperial War Museum at Salford Quays on Thursday night to praise the work of regional journalists.

Lyn said: “We’ve got to know well a number of journalists from across the region and they have been so supportive. The reception we received was overwhelming and we were so pleased to be asked to present the award in Lee’s honour.

“We never want Lee forgotten and you could genuinely feel the love in the room. I couldn’t say anything on the night because I was too emotional but we were so pleased to be asked to attend and Ian and I would like to say thank you to all the journalists from the North West who have helped us.”

Chancellor George Osborne announced BBC North West Tonight’s Jayne McCubbin as TV Reporter of the Year.  Granada Reports front man Mike Hall was crowned Broadcaster of the Year by ITV newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, while Everton boss Roberto Martinez revealed Mick Coyle of Radio City as the North West’s top sports reporter.

Other special guests included veterans of World War Two, who received a fanfare from the Duke of Lancaster’s Regimental Band as they took to the stage, Sir Tom Finney’s son Brian and daughter Barbara and former Page 3 girl Lou Varley. Emmerdale’s on-screen couple Fiona Wade and Pasha Boccarie presented the Warrington Guardian with its Weekly Newspaper of the Year trophy.

The Liverpool Echo retained its crown as Daily Newspaper of the Year and picked up a joint winners award for its week-long series of First World War supplements. They shared the Supplement of the Year crown with The Sentinel who were praised for their coverage of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Echo photographer, Gareth Jones, was named Photographer of the Year. His award was presented by BBC Breakfast’s Mike Bushell.

The Echo also picked up the award for the year’s best scoop for its investigation into how Government computers were used to post internet slurs about the victims of the Hillsborough on Wikipedia. BBC Breakfast’s Charlie Stayt presented the trophy.

Team of the Year was the Lancashire Evening Post for their in-depth coverage of the death of football legend Sir Tom Finney. Oldham Evening Chronicle Managing Editor Dave Whaley received the Judges’ Special Award for his moving accounts of his fight to beat throat cancer.

This year’s awards attracted an audience of 180 media professionals across print, digital and broadcast organisations. BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin hosted the event with O2’s Head of Communications Strategy and Reputation Dave Massey.

With more than 350 individual entries the O2 Awards are the biggest regional press awards in the country. Capita, a UK leader in business process management and outsourcing solutions, provided additional sponsorship. Judging was conducted over three separate days and the panels were made up of working editors and senior news executives from print, radio and television.

Nicola Green, Director of Communications and Reputation at O2 UK, said the judging panel were hugely impressed by the tremendous examples of community journalism across the North West.

“The O2 awards are a celebration of all that is good about regional media.”

Bob Buiaroski, Capita O2 Partnership Director, said the Awards were one of the most prestigious of their type in the UK.

“The fantastic work of regional journalists across North West needs to be showcased,” he added.


O2 Media Awards North West 2014 winners:

Free Distribution Newspaper

St Helens Star

Highly Commended

Wirral Globe

Runcorn and Widnes World

Midweek Visiter

Champion Newspapers


Team of the Year

Lancashire Evening Post

Highly Commended

Global Radio North West

BBC Radio Lancashire

The Sentinel


Young Reporter of the Year

Adam McClean – ITV Granada

Highly Commended

Dan Hewitt –  ITV Granada

Samantha Yarwood –  Flintshire Chronicle

Georgina Stubbs – Southport Visiter

Nick Smith – Radio City


Feature Writer of the Year

Diane Cooke – Lancashire Telegraph

Highly Commended

Paddy Shennan – Liverpool Echo

Richard Ault – The Sentinel

Dave Whaley – Oldham Evening Chronicle


Judges’ Special Award

Dave Whaley – Oldham Evening Chronicle


Weekly News Reporter of the Year

Anna Smith – Westmorland Gazette

Highly Commended

Jamie Bowman – Crosby Herald

Rachel Flint – Chester Chronicle

Carmella De Lucia – Chester Chronicle

Matthew Hobbs – Warrington Guardian


Radio Journalist of the Year

Michelle Livesey – Key 103

Highly Commended

Tim Padfield – BBC Radio Lancashire

Andy Downton – Global Radio North West


Specialist Writer of the Year

Aasma Day – Lancashire Evening Post

Highly Commended

Gill Johnson – Lancashire Telegraph

Jayne McCubbin – BBC North West Tonight

Maureen Hodges – Cumberland News


Community Journalism Award

Juice FM

Highly Commended

The Sentinel

Blackpool Gazette

Cumbrian Newspapers


Weekly Sports Reporter of the Year

Jon Colman – Cumberland News

Highly Commended

Adam Lord – The Visitor & Lancaster Guardian

Ross McLean – Westmorland Gazette


Specialist Publication of the Year

Carlisle Living

Highly Commended

Lancashire Life

North West Business Insider

All Together Now


Scoop of the Year

Liverpool Echo (Hillsborough Wikipedia slurs)

Highly Commended

Granada Reports (BNP leader in ‘crip’ row)

Lancashire Evening Post (Dog ate my face but saved my life)


Photographer of the Year

Gareth Jones – Liverpool Echo

Highly Commended

Andy Lambert – Manchester Evening News

Darren Robinson – Oldham Evening Chronicle

Harry Atkinson – North West Evening Mail


Supplement of the Year

Liverpool Echo – Great War 100 Years

Stoke Sentinel – D Day the Final Salute

Highly Commended

Cumberland News – Cumbria Remembers

Lancashire Telegraph – Letters from the Front Line


New Media Award

Chester Chronicle

Highly Commended

Mike Price – Liverpool Echo

Ben Turner – Liverpool Echo

Cumbria Live


Broadcast Presenter of the Year

Mike Hall –  ITV Granada

Highly Commended

Michelle Ponting – Key 103

Annabel Tiffin – BBC North West Tonight


Weekly Newspaper of the Year

Warrington Guardian

Highly Commended

Chester Chronicle

Westmorland Gazette


Sports Reporter of the Year

Mick Coyle – Radio City

Highly Commended

Chris Hall – ITV Granada

Matthew Chambers – Oldham Evening Chronicle

Stuart Pollitt – BBC North West Tonight


Daily Newspaper of the Year

Liverpool Echo

Highly Commended

The Sentinel

North West Evening Mail

News and Star


TV Journalist of the Year

Jayne McCubbin – BBC North West Tonight

Highly Commended

Mel Barham – ITV Granada

Dave Guest – BBC North West Tonight

Abbie Jones – BBC North West Tonight

Dan Hewitt –  ITV Granada


News Reporter of the Year

Neal Keeling – Manchester Evening News

Highly Commended

Ashley Derricott – ITV Granada

Michelle Livesey – Key 103

Phil Coleman – News & Star

Helen Hunt – Liverpool Echo


Here are the photos from the night-

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