Scroll down to find out more about the bursary recipients due to start their journalism courses in the September 2017 – August 2018 academic year.

Cohort one

David Bass

David Bass

From an early age David always had an interest in journalism. At school he loved writing in english classes and this led to him study both english language and literature at A-level. He also took part in magazine projects during the summer holidays and wrote in his spare time for fun.

At the age of 19 David gained a place at a university in Leicester to study a combined english/media/arts management degree. Initially David was excited to study and experience living independently, and at first things went well, with David landing a role on the university newspaper reviewing music and local gigs.

Unfortunately David began to experience mental health issues, and after around six months he had to drop out and spend some time in hospital. Upon recovering, he went back to college to study media production, which he really enjoyed. As part of the course, he went to an event advertising journalism courses at The London College of Print. It sounded fantastic to David, who promptly enrolled on a course starting the following year.

David described the two years he spent there as some of the best of his life. He met some fantastic friends and the course was challenging but fun.

Unfortunately since completing the course his mental health has been up and down. He has had various jobs and completed courses in other subjects, but has always wanted to break into journalism.

After doing some research and talking to friends in the industry, he discovered that the most valued and widely recognised qualification was the NCTJ diploma. After hearing that they were very well respected, he applied to the Press Association and passed the entrance exam, but unfortunately he could not afford the fees. He was about to give up, but was told about the Journalism Diversity Fund by a tutor at the PA.

Following his application and a successful interview, David has been given a second chance at a journalism career and is now looking forward to starting the course in September.



Georgia Chambers

Georgia Chambers

Growing up, Georgia struggled to identify anyone in the news or mainstream media that reflected her cultural background, interests and experiences. Although many positive steps have been made in increasing diversity in journalism, Georgia believes that more still needs to be done. This is why initiatives like the NCTJ Journalism Diversity Fund are so important, as it has given budding journalists like Georgia the opportunity to make their mark in an industry which previously seemed a distant ambition to them.

She is primarily interested in international news and issues affecting women and ethnic minority communities. In her career, Georgia hopes to make sure the voices of minority groups are heard and to contribute to a newsroom that is as diverse as the people whose stories it tells.



Charley-Kai John

Charley-Kai John

Charley is an english literature graduate from the University of Warwick. Welsh but unable to speak Welsh, Charley grew up in Cardiff and is keen to see more Welsh journalists working in the media, with better representation for Wales overall. He was a regular columnist and cartoonist for Warwick’s student newspaper The Boar, and has also contributed political cartoons to Warwick Globalist, TSJ and Index on Censorship. Charley has won student writing competitions for The Guardian and was the winner of Index on Censorship’s inaugural student blogging competition. After graduating he made the decision to return to his hometown and will study for an NCTJ-accredited MA at Cardiff School of Journalism in September.



Hayley Pearce

Hayley Pearce

Hayley is a 28-year-old single mum from Southampton. She graduated with a first class honours degree in english language in 2009. Alongside jobs as cabin crew, marketing assistant and copywriter, she gained experience in journalism, writing about music, fashion, travel, sociocultural issues, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, more recently, parenthood. Her work has been published in The Jerusalem Post, Al Arabiya, Southern Daily Echo and others. Thanks to the Journalism Diversity Fund, she is now able to gain a formal qualification in journalism, and will begin her NCTJ Level 3 Diploma at Highbury College in September.

Hayley hopes to become a multimedia journalist for a local or national news organisation covering underreported issues relating to vulnerable and voiceless members of society.



Kirsty Purnell

Kirsty Purnell

Kirsty is thirty years old and comes from Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. She has worked as a news reporter for the Southwark News for nine months and will begin the news reporting course at Press Association Training in August.



April Roach

April Roach

April Roach is a Black British woman with Jamaican heritage. She studied english literature and creative writing at Warwick University and spent an Erasmus year at the Sorbonne in Paris. Born in London, she moved to the Netherlands with her family at a young age where she lived for eleven years before moving back to the UK for her studies. Growing up in the Netherlands and attending an international school led April to cultivate a love for travel and experiencing different cultures.

She enjoys volunteering and raising awareness of various issues, such as her work with STAR, Student Action for Refugees. She is interested in local and global affairs, discovering stories that help provide a platform for underrepresented voices.

She is passionate about writing poetry and stories as well as journalistic pieces. After writing for her university newspaper and helping manage the paper as deputy news editor, she completed work experience placements at The Leamington Courier, the Press Association, The Guardian and The Birmingham Mail.

April will begin her NCTJ news reporting course at the Press Association in London in August.



Lydia Wilkins

Lydia Wilkins

Lydia is an eighteen-year-old blogger who aspires to be a national columnist. She has Asperger’s Syndrome, meaning that some forms of communication can be hard. Her favourite interview was with the singer Anastacia.

Lydia will be starting her journalism training at Brighton Journalist Works in September.



Cohort Two

Shamaan Freeman-Powell

Shamaan, 23, recently graduated from Sheffield Hallam University where she received a 2:1 bachelor’s degree in media and a merit in international journalism (MA).

Shamaan received a scholarship to complete her masters and whilst studying, she worked as a freelance video journalist for a local TV station in Sheffield. During her time as a freelance video journalist, Shamaan was able to work on some high profile stories, for example: the Hillsborough disaster, the finding Ben Needham campaign and interviewing Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, during the Labour leadership contest.

Despite this experience, Shamaan still struggled to secure permanent full time work as her journalism course was not NCTJ accredited and didn't offer shorthand.

In August, Shamaan will be starting her fast track diploma in news journalism with Press Association Training. She is looking forward to taking this final step to secure her career in journalism.

Thomas Gabbidon

Thomas is a recent graduate of the University of Sussex with a degree in history. He has been passionate about writing on international issues with his recent dissertation being about ethnically diverse women from Africa and the Caribbean in the 20th century which some of his family members have experienced.

It was through his interest in history and writing for regional news that he considered journalism as a genuine career option. Previously he was unsure on how he could pursue a career in writing due to having dyslexia, but with the confidence he gained in writing for regional news and through his course, it became clear that he could pursue a career in journalism.

He has been a frequent contributor to The Tab, and has recently finished an internship at The Brighton Argus, but he would like to hopefully write on international issues with a diverse perspective.

When not writing Thomas often engages in sport, including representing his university in the BUCS Athletics championships which has also fuelled my passion for sports journalism.

James Gale

James, 23, recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth, studying journalism and English language.

While beginning his studies, James harboured hopes to work as a music journalist but has quickly broadened both skills and experiences over his time at university, and is passionate for journalism of all shapes and sizes; politics & current affairs, investigative & gonzo, the arts, cultural & comment. He is a particular fan of Jon Ronson - enjoying his ‘dryronic’ gonzo writing and reporting, and his love of the ridiculous, weird & wonderful.

He also has editorial experience – fortunate enough to intern at The Sunday Times News Review, The Portsmouth News & NME. He will continue to do so over the coming months, and begin training in News Reporting at Press Association Training in September 2017.

However, James comes from a modest background – often working two jobs while at university – and would have been unable to begin training without the support of the JDF. He also suffers both mental health issues and physical disability - but as a writer and journalist, James hopes to offer a voice to those with similar struggles, and be a platform for the marginalised in society.

Beyond journalism, James has a real passion for music, movies, writing, reading and cooking – but ultimately, and simply, he hopes to work a fascinating job with fascinating people.

Connor Parker

Connor has a degree in history from Sheffield Hallam University and a Postgraduate Masters in sociology and policy research. During his postgraduate studies he developed a keen interest in pursuing journalism as a career. Always fascinated by current events, he'd previously lacked the confidence to attempt to break into the extremely competitive industry because he has dyslexia and dyspraxia as well as suffering with poor mental health - both of which he thought would limit his ability to successfully meet the demanding requirements expected of journalists.

However, after encouragement Connor settled on following his dream. Whilst doing a postgraduate degree in sociology he set up a student newspaper, HNews, which grew from being produced by a single person on Publisher in black and white to a team of twenty producing regular content in print and online in the space of six months. For his efforts he was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Student Media Award and secured a work experience placement at The Sheffield Star.

On top of this he has also written several times for The Telegraph and The Huffington Post, covering issues faced by young people, and he hopes to become a political journalist promoting issues around hidden disabilities and mental health. In his spare time Connor can be found listening to podcasts and watching history documentaries.

Connor is due to start a second postgraduate course studying journalism at The University of Sheffield.


Harvey Solomon-Brady

Harvey Solomon-Brady graduated from The University of Leeds in 2016. He began working at Birmingham lifestyle magazine In The City that year before stints at The Birmingham Mail and Press Association. He wrote features for The Birmingham Mail’s sister publication, The Sunday Mercury, as well as articles for Birmingham Mail Online.

Mr Solomon-Brady begins the NCTJ’s news reporting course at the Press Association in August 2017.

Some of Harvey’s favourite journalists are: Mahzer Mahmood, Rod Liddle, Andrew Marr and Philip Webster. He’s passionate about politics and current affairs, Birmingham, German culture and Liverpool FC.

Loretta Thomas

Loretta previously worked in the field of social care supporting men and women who experience drug and alcohol dependency, after becoming intrigued about addictive behavior when she read Christiane F’s autobiography H when she was 10 years old.
She wanted to explore different ways in which she could meet individuals in their physical struggle, so she became qualified as an auricular acupuncture therapist and achieved diplomas in holistic massage therapy and sports massage therapy so she could support people fighting their addiction and assist with their healing and well-being.
Loretta is the youngest of five siblings and within her extended family she has nieces and a nephew.

She recalls always having to, or feeling she needed to, fight for her voice to be heard as well as her rights – and has carried that same spirit for justice and to be the voice against injustice into her field of work as a substance misuse practitioner and to her wider community of family and friends.

Loretta believes that as individuals we all have the ability to change and take control of our lives and the decisions we make. For her, journalism is the perfect platform from where she can begin to challenge some of the social injustices and be the voice for the voiceless.
Loretta will begin her NCTJ news reporting course at Press Association Training in August.