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Mark Harcus of The Orcadian has been named Diageo Journalist of the Year at the annual Highlands and Islands Media Awards.

Mark was the unanimous choice of the judges for his features and the quality of his reporting of news, sport, business and the environment.

Mark’s prize is £500, which includes £300 to be gifted to a charity of his choice. He also won the Sports Reporter of the Year Award.

Judging panel chair, Gordon Fyfe, said: “Mark is a worthy winner of our top individual award for demonstrating ability across news, sports and feature writing. His work is consistently of a very high quality and contributes hugely to the excellent service the Orcadian delivers to its readers.”

The Orcadian picked up a second award thanks to Ethan Flett winning the Alex Main Trophy for being Young Writer of the Year.

And long-serving photographer Ken Amer made it a hat-trick for Orkney by being presented with a Special Recognition Award for his contribution to journalism on the island over 37 years and for promoting an important health message surrounding prostate cancer.

The Press and Journal picked up two awards. Stuart Findlay won the Jim Love Memorial Trophy for being Reporter of the Year and Donna MacAllister won the prize for best entry in the Environment and Sustainability category. Freelance Peter Ranscombe won the Business Writer of the Year Award for articles that appeared in The Business, Press and Journal.

Andrew Henderson, Highland News and Media, is Feature Writer of the Year, while Paul Campbell, an Inverness freelance, is Photographer of the Year.

Newspaper of the Year is the West Highland Free Press, while the Chatterbox, which serves the Black Isle, won Community Newspaper of the Year.

Donald Wilson, recently retired reporter with the Highland News and Media, based in Nairn, received the Barron Trophy for lifelong achievement in journalism.

The awards were presented at the 34th annual edition of the Highlands and Islands Press Ball, the only event that brings together industry colleagues from across a huge and dispersed region. Nearly 250 media representatives, politicians and heads of public and private organisations attended the event on Friday, February 3 at the Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness. 

The ball, and associated Highlands and Islands Media Awards, attracted journalists from Shetland to Argyll and from Moray to the Outer Hebrides serving print, broadcast and online media. 

Principal sponsor of the evening was Diageo, with additional support from Statkraft, Chivas Brothers, the National Union of Journalists, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Hub North Scotland, the Kane Partnership, Highland Tourism and Bord an Gàidhlig.

The event raised £4,111 which will benefit four local charities: Highland Hospice, Centred (formerly Birchwood Highland), Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) and the Liam Colgan Music Fund. The ball has now raised nearly £120,000 for good causes, with all the money staying in the Highlands and Islands.  

Ball chairman John Ross said: “We are delighted the Press Ball continues to bring together colleagues from across the area where they are an essential part of local communities.

“Our charity fundraising is also a vital part of the occasion and we are extremely pleased to be able to contribute in a small way to some fantastic local causes.”

The full list of award winners (above) is –

Environment and Sustainability (Highland Tourism Award) Donna MacAllister, Press and Journal

Business Writer of the Year Peter Ranscombe, Press and Journal

Gaelic Writer of the Year (Bòrd na Gàidhlig Award) Angus Peter Campbell, West Highland Free Press

Young Reporter of the Year (Alex Main Trophy) Ethan Flett, Orcadian

Sports Writer of the Year Mark Harcus, Orcadian

Photographer of the Year Paul Campbell, Inverness Freelance

Reporter of the Year (Jim Love Memorial Trophy) Stuart Findlay, Press and Journal

Feature Writer of the Year Andrew Henderson, Highland News and Media

Community Newspaper of the Year Chatterbox, Black Isle

Newspaper of the Year West Highland Free Press

Diageo Journalist of the Year Mark Harcus, Orcadian

Barron Trophy for Lifetime Achievement Donald Wilson, Nairn

Special Recognition Award Ken Amer, Orkney


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