Claire Prosser bursary award

CMP pic_edited-1Claire Prosser believed in equality of opportunity. She believed that if someone wanted the chance to become a journalist, then they should be able to do so.

It didn’t matter about a person’s background; not their ethnicity, their culture, their sexual orientation nor anything else you’d care to name. Rather it was about having the passion, the determination, the sheer bloody-minded will to succeed. It was about believing in yourself and in what you had to offer, even if nobody else did.

These weren’t just idle ‘down the pub’ musings. For Claire’s long career in journalism culminated in a role that she seemed destined for, one which gave her the chance to put her philosophy into action.

Claire started as a reporter on the Surrey Herald in 1978. She trained on the NCTJ pre-entry course at the then Harlow Technical College in Essex.

In 1985, Claire joined BBC Ceefax. She then moved to the BBC Radio 4 newsroom – one of a handful of women in what was then very much a man’s world – before returning to Ceefax as its Editor. Yet broadcast was her first love and the lure of the new network on the block, BBC Radio 5 Live, proved too strong. She moved there as an output editor and loved the work.

Eventually, however, an irresistible opportunity presented itself – the chance in 2007 to launch, and become the first Director of, the BBC’s Journalism Trainee Scheme, the JTS. This was not the old Oxbridge-centric BBC trainee scheme of the past. The BBC had moved on. Claire’s brief was to unearth new talent from communities or backgrounds that might see the BBC as too white, too middle-class, too male – and unattainable.

Claire met the challenge head on despite testing times in her personal life. She thrived and so did the JTS. You can hear from some of those that Claire recruited in a short film here.

To say Claire enjoyed far more success than failure in attracting newcomers from diverse backgrounds is not just the rose-tinted view of a proud husband and daughter. Rather it is a belief born of the outpouring of love and respect from ‘her’ trainees that followed her death. It is born of the continuation of the JTS. It is born of the posthumous lifetime achievement award Claire received at the European Diversity Awards in 2015.

Claire dared to believe in people who didn’t always believe in themselves. This bursary is a part of her legacy.

Take up Claire’s challenge and apply. Dare to believe.

Paul Clabburn and Ellen Clabburn x

June, 2016.

Applicants for the Claire Prosser bursary award are drawn from those who have been awarded funding from the Journalism Diversity Fund and have indicated a preference for a career as a broadcast or digital journalist.

The award winner will receive a £5000 contribution to their funding and will also receive a work experience opportunity with BBC News. Those applying for a financial contribution in excess of £5,000 will receive their additional funding from the Journalism Diversity Fund