I am a professional journalist with more than 40 years’ experience on local, regional and daily newspapers.
The best job in the world, I always believed as a young teenager, would be to write for Melody Maker or Record Mirror, interviewing the big names of the day about their music. I wrote to Jackie magazine asking for work experience, and while still at school started reporting on Eastbourne Speedway for the Eastbourne Herald & Gazette where I later did my training.
I also loved motoring and motorsport so winning the Sir William Lyons Award when just 19 was a huge honour. I was thrilled to receive the grand trophy from 1976 World Speedway champion, Peter Collins, that year. Run by the Guild of Motoring Writers, I was proud to be the first woman to lift the award. I wrote for numerous motorsport magazines, contributed to books, was commissioned to write the A-Z of Speedway and later spent two years covering motorsport outside of Formula One for the Daily Mail.
After many years at the Peterborough Evening Telegraph I left journalism to take up the role of Press & PR Manager at Brands Hatch, returning to newspapers as Chief Reporter at the Newbury Weekly News.
Later in Norfolk, I was for six years the senior district reporter based at the satellite office of the Eastern Daily Press in Wymondham. Editing the Wymondham & Attleborough Mercury, we were named Best Free Newspaper three times in six years .
From there I joined the Diss Express where, for four years, I was Sports Editor before moving back to Sussex. For 14 years I was Group Sports Editor at the Surrey Mirror stable of nine titles. With a team of eight, the “A Team” as I christened them, won nine awards in that 14 year period.
Having held every senior position in the newsroom up to Assistant Editor, I spent some years mentoring junior reporters and, hopefully, steering them in the right direction and making sure they became the best they could. It was a role I enjoyed immensely. I urged them to challenge those in positions of power and influence, be the champion of their patch and the reporter who asks the awkward questions others avoid. If that upsets people, don’t worry about it, I would assure them. It usually means you are onto something.
I always wanted to be the journalist who made a difference, and sometimes we did. The one event which made my mind up this was my career was the Aberfan disaster in 1966. I was deeply moved by the way reporters gently worked with parents, family and friends when more than 100 children and adults were killed following the collapse of a colliery spoil tip on to the village school. But those reporters were also the people to ask the difficult questions parents demanded answers of from those in the corridors of power. The media have an important role to play in the communities we serve and that must never change.
I always enjoyed getting to the heart of a story, whatever it might be, but the human interest stories are at the heart of everything we do which makes life as a local news reporter worthwhile. Over the decades many of those people I wrote about through my work have stayed very dear friends.
Since 2012 I have been freelance working with a number of sporting bodies and having my work published in lifestyle magazines and national newspapers including The Independent, Sunday Times and Observer on Sunday.
I spend whatever free time I have cycling in road sportive events and mountain biking.