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.

Cohort Three

Danielle Amato

Danielle Amato

Danielle graduated from Canterbury Christ Church University in 2013 after completing a media and cultural studies degree. She has always wanted a career in the media but it wasn’t until she started university and began working on her own personal blog that she caught the writing bug.

After completing work experience for a number of local newspapers, her love of journalism was solidified and Danielle began taking on various freelance writing roles including working for national magazines, as well as creating blog posts and website content for local companies. However, without the right qualifications her options within journalism have been limited.

Despite wanting to take on a variety of jobs, Danielle’s physical disability means that working in certain roles simply isn’t possible and in turn, has found it difficult to save for a qualification in journalism. This is a cycle she has struggled to break free from since graduating four years ago but she is determined not to let her financial situation stop her from succeeding.

Danielle believes her past and current experiences have given her the determination and ability to bring something new to journalism. She feels that a real life understanding is important when telling a story and wishes to use her skills to break boundaries, educate and improve the lives of others.
Danielle begins her NCTJ accredited MA in multimedia journalism at the University of Kent this September.


Elizabeth Burden

Elizabeth Burden

Elizabeth “Lizzy” Burden founded the newspaper at her primary school and was an editor of The Cambridge Student newspaper while completing her undergraduate degree, but she only realised she wanted to be a professional journalist when she was working as a production associate for documentary film in New York.

Her projects included Gerald R. Ford, which was commissioned by the Presidential Library and broadcast by National Geographic, and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)’s American Experience series. She was fascinated by the arts of interview and storytelling but wanted to turn her attention from history to current affairs and was also drawn to the faster paced environment of the newsroom.

Plus, after an eight-year career as a fashion model across five continents, having studied international relations at LSE and being Filipina-English by descent, she wanted to apply her global perspective to her work. She has now completed a six-week internship at The Times and looks forward to honing her technical skills as a journalist by undertaking a fast-track NCTJ course at UCFB Wembley. Afterwards, her goal is to work as a foreign correspondent.


Rory Claydon

Rory Claydon

Since joining the ranks of the award-winning blog Backbench during his sixth form years, Rory has had an interest in political and investigative reporting. During his tenure at Backbench, Rory served as a lead writer, sub-editor and also as the education editor. During the summers between sixth form and university, Rory kept writing and blogging for the site on topics that caught his interest, ranging from Scientology to foreign policy. He was awarded 'Article of the Month' three times for his writings at Backbench.

During his undergraduate course, Rory undertook a week-long work placement at the Liverpool Echo where his photography was featured in the weekly 'Street Style' print column, as well as serving as the views editor for his student paper, The Gryphon. During his tenure at The Gryphon he was awarded the 'Best Views Article of Semester 2' for his piece on Anti-Antisemitism in the Labour Party.

As someone with Dyspraxia and Hypermobility, Rory has faced some barriers in getting on the journalistic ladder. However, with excellent pastoral support and the increasing digitisation of the media, Rory has made use of other tools to ensure he can report on equal standing to able-bodied journalists.

As an aspiring political reporter with a strong interest in issues relating to foreign affairs and social justice, the NCTJ scholarship ensures that Rory can gain a qualification at one of the best centres for journalism in the United Kingdom, Cardiff University.


Aisha Doherty

Aisha Doherty

Aisha is a documentary filmmaker, born in London of Ethiopian-Irish heritage. She graduated in 2014 with a BA degree in human geography from the London School of Economics.
Upon graduation, she worked for media company DMS before moving to Barcelona to work with OTOXO Productions. Working with an international collective, she helped co-write and co-direct the documentary ‘El Peso De La Manta’. The social documentary has been well-received in festivals and screenings around the world.

Since relocating to London, Aisha has worked freelance to produce short documentaries and commercials, with a focus on reporting current social issues from deeply human perspectives. She is looking forward to combining her documentary background with her long-held passion for journalism. Thanks to help from the Journalism Diversity Fund, Aisha began the NCTJ news reporting course at the Press Association Training in August 2017.

Coran Elliott

Coran Elliott

Having initially worked as an actress, Coran began her re-training by completing a BA in English literature at The Open University. She went on to graduate from the course with first class honours.

Coran then began contributing to various online platforms including the website Africkswag where she wrote first-hand accounts of her experience as a Black British woman. She also created her own blog; One Outfit at a Time, where she covers subjects ranging from politics to heartbreak.

Coran has completed work experience at The Daily Express and The Daily Mirror. She has written for The Sunday People, The Daily Mirror and Mirror Sport Online covering sporting events such as Eastbourne tennis tournament and the French Open.

Her hope is that with the support of the Journalism Diversity Fund, she will be able to encourage other women of colour to pursue a career in sports journalism and also make her West Indian grandparents proud.

Coran will begin her NCTJ news reporting course at Press Association Training in September.

Daniel Khalili-Tari

Daniel Khalili-Tari

Daniel is half-Croatian and half-Iranian and has always had an interest in politics and social issues and the causal effects these subjects have on society.

Having struggled with financial issues from a young age and having to care for his mother, Daniel developed a passion for education as a means to empower and improve his living situation. He attended West Herts College where he achieved an overall grade of Triple Distinction in creative media production, before progressing onto Westminster University where he was awarded two scholarships for academic excellence.

Daniel has written about politics, social issues, popular culture, current affairs and economics, while writing for The Independent, The Metro, The Sun Online and The London Economic among other publications.

Daniel is due to commence his NCTJ diploma in news reporting at Press Association Training London in August. Upon completing his studies he intends to pursue a career as a reporter, focusing on politics, social issues and mental health.

Adam Samuel

Adam Samuel

Born to a family of British-Caribbean origin, Adam and his twin were brought up in a single parent household in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham.

Adam has always thrived on the playing fields, participating in academy-level football for several years and competing as a national level track and field athlete. Adam enjoyed his first experience of writing in his role as head boy in his final year of secondary school, where he contributed a weekly article to the school newsletter.

Adam recently graduated with a BA degree in sports management from Bournemouth University, after which he found his way into sports journalism, writing regularly for a football-centred website.

Adam is determined to forge a career in multimedia journalism, and the support provided by the JDF will allow him to begin his Master’s degree in Sports Journalism at St Mary’s University this autumn.

Anu Shukla

Anu Shukla

Anu’s fascination with print media was triggered at the age of seven filing newspaper returns for her dad’s newsagent shop.

Growing older, she felt inspired by reporters who utilised journalism as a tool for positive social change. As a person of British-Asian origin with her own experience of systematic institutional racism, she felt empowered to do the same. Knowledge of prejudice endured by family elders during sixties Britain also compelled her to challenge ‘tolerance’ of ethnic minorities.

Anu felt the only way to do so was to report stories that will help the newsroom and its audience understand the complexities of race politics, and which promote acceptance and equality in a multicultural society.

Her short film documenting the volunteer effort at French refugee camps challenged opinions and was shown at packed-out local events. Clips from the film were also shown on BBC Midlands Today.

Overall, Anu is passionate about telling the stories of those without a voice. In the future, she aims to work in the realm of data and investigative journalism. She says the NCTJ is the absent piece of the puzzle and feels immense gratitude for the opportunity to complete her training.

Anu has an MA in journalism from the London College of Communication where she completed an internship with Al Jazeera as a documentary researcher. She has also worked as a reporter for local and regional titles including the Bromsgrove Standard, Droitwich Standard and the Derby Telegraph.

Danny Thompson

Danny Thompson

At the age of 28 Danny found himself out of work due to difficulties with arthritis. He had been diagnosed at 15 and the illness had played a big role in his life ever since. Up until he was 28, Danny had been working in call centres and warehouses and decided to return to education with the hope of finding a career he would enjoy.

Danny managed to enrol on a social studies degree at the University of Warwick. Whilst at university, he threw himself into extracurricular activities; blogging, writing articles for student paper The Boar, and volunteering and interning for local football clubs including Coventry City and Mansfield Town. He rediscovered his enjoyment of writing and being creative during this time, and decided to pursue a career in journalism.
In his final year at Warwick, Danny applied and was accepted for the NCTJ diploma course at Wolverhampton College. He knew he wanted the NCTJ diploma as it seemed absolutely necessary for pursuing a career in journalism. Despite this, he was worried about the financial issues of studying full time, particularly with a disability and a young family to support. The JDF bursary has assuaged his worries and allowed him to take up his place at City of Wolverhampton College, and pursue his career in journalism.

Eoin Wilson

Eoin Wilson

Eoin is an Irish-Scottish freelance journalist who was brought up in the former mining communities outside Edinburgh and has written for Al Jazeera English, the Middle East Eye and the Electronic Intifada, among others.

After graduating from Edinburgh University in 2011 with an MA in Arabic and Spanish, he worked as an autism support worker and a van driver, before later completing an MA in community education, equality and social activism at the National University of Ireland Maynooth near Dublin. His thesis focused on the Green Brigade and expressions of politicised, working class Irish identity in Scotland.

In 2015, he participated in the prestigious Scottish Documentary Institute 'Bridging the Gap' documentary film training scheme, where he explored the death in police custody of Sheku Bayoh.

The same year Eoin began shooting a photographic documentary, Behind the Wire, about Dungavel immigration detention and the UK government's policies towards refugees and asylum seekers, which won Best Broadcast/Film at the Refugee Festival Scotland Media Awards 2017.

Eoin has lived and worked in Mexico, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Scotland, Ireland and England, with stints at CommonSpace in Glasgow, RT UK in London and most recently The Jordan Times in Amman. Eoin has now begun his fast track diploma course at News Associates London.