A young journalist has been named the first winner of a university prize set up in honour of a former deputy editor of The Journal.
Laura Symonds, a 21-year-old former student at Sunderland University, is the inaugural recipient of The Journal/Kevin Overbury Award for Best Magazine Journalism Student at Sunderland.
The award is in memory of journalism lecturer and former deputy editor of The Journal, Kevin Overbury, who died last year after a long illness. He was deputy editor from 1997 to 2002 and was a key member of the team that redesigned the paper when it moved from broadsheet to tabloid.
Laura, who is from Bedale in North Yorkshire, won the award for the high quality of her work throughout her time at Sunderland. She gained the highest mark on the magazine course and was given special recognition as she graduated at the Stadium of Light.
The 21-year-old gained particular praise from academics for her final project magazine, Geekybit, as an alternative women’s magazine for those who love technology, science, sci-fi and fantasy entertainment and fashion.
She said: “It was a massive surprise and I was over the moon to hear my name when the award winner was announced. It felt incredibly special to be given the award and made all the hard work that has gone in over the past year so worthwhile.
“I certainly want to work in magazine journalism now I have finished my course. This course has given me the motivation and whetted my appetite to go and achieve my dreams.
“My dissertation magazine was different to what is available in most shops and I’d love it if I could have the opportunity to write about similar topics in the future, either online or in a magazine.
“I couldn’t think of a better job and I really have loved the opportunity to do just that at Sunderland.”
Jenny McKay, who runs the magazine journalism degree at Sunderland, said: “Laura’s a most impressive student. She has lots of creative ideas and being very well organised she can make them come to life. She writes brilliantly, as well as being able to design attractive pages and create a user-friendly website. I’m sure she’ll go on to great things in the world of magazines.”
Kevin’s widow Karen, who is editor of The Journal Homemaker and deputy head of The Journal business team, said: “Kevin loved the printed word, and creating The Journal/Kevin Overbury Award will, hopefully, make a small difference in helping students to progress their careers in journalism.
“I think Kevin would have been very proud of Laura’s achievements and I send her my best wishes for a long and happy career in the industry that he so loved.”