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University alumni Tom Cotterill named news journalist of the year

AN ALUMNI from the University of Chichester has been named news journalist of the year in recognition of his work as one of the UK’s leading defence correspondents.

Tom Cotterill, from the News, Portsmouth, was presented with the accolade at the JPIMedia Awards after a year of covering the armed forces, including being deployed in the Gulf. The Chichester graduate studied what is now the BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing and has, since leaving in 2010, gone on to become one of the country’s top military journalists.

He was also praised by judges at the ceremony for securing a world-exclusive last year revealing how a rumour the Queen had died had sparked from an exercise carried out at a Royal Navy base.

Tom said: "I was over the moon when I found out I had won news journalist of the year for 2020. I just couldn't believe it. I definitely didn't go into journalism to bag awards but I won't lie, winning one is a brilliant feeling.”

The 31-year-old became defence correspondent at the News, Portsmouth in 2015, following his successes at the Littlehampton Gazette, where he was the title’s youngest ever chief reporter at 23. He has since covered deployments overseas, helped spearhead a campaign to tackle Britain’s veteran suicide epidemic, and covered numerous naval homecomings.

He added: “The past 12 months have been incredibly busy. I've deployed on British warships in the Gulf at the height of the tensions with Iran, flown to America to report on the stealth jets taking off from the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, interviewed Boris Johnson and helped cover the D-Day 75 commemorations, which saw world leaders fly into Portsmouth for a huge ceremony.”

Guardians of the Gulf

The JPIMedia Awards celebrate the best in journalism each year. Tom was also a finalist in the story of the year category, which was awarded to an investigation unit – of which his is also part – for a major scope about the multibillion-pound cost of Britain's disastrous PFI schemes.

Speaking of the University, he added: "I remember my time at Chichester fondly, it was a fantastic university where you really felt part of a family. 

“My tutors were incredibly supportive, in particular Dave Swann - a former journalist himself. I'm still in touch with him now, a decade after I graduated. I've watched with great pride as Chichester continues to storm up Britain's university rankings. I'd recommend it as a place for any future student."

The award-winning University alumni is the latest in a line of successful graduates to have studied the Creative Writing and English degree. Notable graduates include celebrated writers Isabel Ashdown and Bethan Roberts, while the course itself is overseen by internationally-acclaimed author Kate Mosse.

Senior lecturer Dave Swann, who taught Tom during his University course, said: “Tom was a brilliant student, always eager to learn. I could tell straightaway that he had energy and drive. He started a fiercely imagined novel on one of my modules, and was always helpful to other students when working in small groups.

“He had a wicked sense of humour, too! I'm so pleased Tom has prospered in his chosen field, and I predict he will go on to even greater things in the future. I hope that current and future students learn from Tom's fine example that the sky is the limit if they do all they can to learn as much as possible about the things that they love."

For more from Tom follow him at www.twitter.com/pn_tomcotterill or read his award-winning work at www.portsmouth.co.uk/author/tom.cotterill. Or study English and Creative Writing at the University of Chichester at www.chi.ac.uk/humanities.