Staff from across the Midland News Association have been honoured in the company’s first awards ceremony.
Twenty one awards, covering the full range of departments, were presented to employees at an event attended by 440 guests at Telford International Centre on Friday.
Among the leading winners were Oswestry & Border Chronicle, who won team of the year, along with education advertising manager Sue Croft, who won team leader of the year.
Other notable successes included Shropshire Star web editor Todd Nash, who landed the digital person of the year award, and feature writer Ben Bentley, who won the Shropshire journalist prize. Steve Box took the sports desk prize.
On the advertising side, Amy Ward won classified advertising sales person of the year, The Farmer’s Neil Clarkson was Shropshire sales person of the year and Gwynneth Slavin won West Midlands sales person of the year.
Managing director Phil Inman said the awards had “highlighted the real difference our business makes”.
Mr Inman said: “Our titles matter to the customers we serve, the communities we support and the regions we represent.
“Our portfolio is the envy of the industry and so are our staff.
“I am proud to be the managing director of a company where staff make such a positive difference.”
Shropshire Star editor Keith Harrison said: “The whole night was such a great success, and highlighted not only the strength across all departments, but also the enduring team spirit and collective pride that comes from working for the MNA.”
Digital person of the year Todd Nash said: “I am delighted. It was great to win. It’s an award for the whole of the Shropshire Star.”
Shropshire sales person of the year Neil Clarkson of the Farmer magazine: “Working on the Farmer, it is a small paper so this has been a great night.”
The sponsors for the night were AMRA, Flint Group, Fuji, MJC Group, Norske Skog, Press Association, Precision Colour Printing, Renault, Resolute Forest Products, Wyatt International and Goss.
In total, 21 winners were crowned on Friday night, from a field of 72 finalists.
Those shortlisted had made it through to the finals from an original entry list of 275 nominations.
The winners were delighted to be honoured in front of their colleagues.
Alison Jukes, regional sales manager for team of the year winners Oswestry & Border Chronicle, said: “We put in hours of hard work and we are honoured in taking the award. It has been a journey. Winning is an amazing feeling.”
Team leader of the year was Sue Croft, manager of the MNA education advertising team. Colleague Deana Jones collected it on her behalf. She said:
“Sue is the ultimate manager. She has given us inspiration and she wouldn’t expect us to do anything she wouldn’t do herself.”
The Express & Star Business Awards organisers won the project team of the year prize.
Business advertising sales manager Darren Griffin said: “We are representing a project team who helped to make these awards a great success.
“We worked hard and to have that recognised tonight is terrific.”
New employee of the year winner Stephanie Harris, who works as a marketing advisor for the MNA, said: “I am over the moon. It is important to be nominated and great to have won.”
Services department employee of the year Doreen McGowan, the Shropshire Star’s long-serving cleaning supervisor, said: “I am excited and surprised. It is great to have won the award.”
Long serving employee of the year Simon Penfold – the Express & Star’s business editor – said: “I am surprised and honoured. I never expected anything like this. It is a great idea to celebrate wins for the company.”
Classified advertising sales person of the year Amy Ward said: “To come here and have the crowd is an amazing idea. I am still shaking.”
Driver/distribution team member of the year Craig Allen said: “I cannot believe it. These awards show you are appreciated. “
Production person of the year Ian Cartwright said: “My job is a team effort so I am pleased it has been recognised.”
Dave Walker, a commissionaire at the Express & Star, won the public facing award.
“I am gobsmacked,” he said.
“It’s been a fantastic night and evening.”
West Midland sales person of the year Gwynneth Slavin said: “I was delighted I was one of those shortlisted. I feel honoured.”
Circulation person of the year Stacy Ball said: “I am thrilled to win the award all for all of my colleagues. “
Shropshire journalist of the year was Ben Bentley. Star assistant editor Carl Jones collected on behalf of the winner.
He said: “Ben is an all rounder and writes for all the titles.
“He is great at getting ordinary people telling extraordinary stories.”
West Midlands journalist of the year Dan Wainwright said: “The people who are trying to write off local papers need to be shown that they are still important in local communities.”
The Midland News Association, publisher of the Wolverhampton-based Express & Star and the Ketley, Telford-based Shropshire Star newspapers, Real Awards winners were:
Public facing award: Dave Walker, commissionaire, Wolverhampton
Production person of the year: Ian Cartwright, deputy regional pre-press manager, Wolverhampton
Financial employee of the year: Vicky Bryan, chief cashier, Wolverhampton
Sub-editor of the year: Lisa Broom, sub-editor, Wolverhampton
Sports desk person of the year: Steve Box, sub editor, Wolverhampton
West Midlands journalist of the year: Daniel Wainwright, political editor, Wolverhampton
Photographer of the Year: Tim Thursfield, senior chief photographer, Wolverhampton
West Midlands sales person of the year: Gwynneth Slavin, sales representative, Wolverhampton
New employee of the year: Stephanie Harris, marketing advisor, group, Wolverhampton
Long serving employee of the year: Simon Penfold, business editor, Wolverhampton
Team leader: Sue Croft, advertising sales manager, Wolverhampton
Project team of the year: Express & Star Business Awards
Directors discretionary award winner: Viv Birch, promotions manager
Driver/distribution team member of the year: Craig Allen, distribution and loading bay supervisor, Ketley
Digital person of the year: Todd Nash, internet editor, Ketley
Services department employee of the year: Doreen McGowan, cleaning supervisor, Ketley
Shropshire journalist of the year: Ben Bentley, features writer, Ketley
Classified advertising sales person of the year: Amy Ward, telesales advisor, Ketley
Shropshire sales person of the year: Neil Clarkson, sales representative, Ketley
Circulation person of the year: Stacy Ball, customer services supervisor, Ketley
Team of the year: Oswestry & Border Chronicle