Ode to 15 fellow Journo students

1 Professional Newspaper Journalism Diploma

16 hopefuls

19-46 Age range

9 Months

23 Words per sentence

17 Vox Pops

5 Exams (at least)

20 Editions of iNews

3 lost and legendary classmates

8 Newspapers for Work experience

1 Pair of Grey Trousers

173 Scones

10 Shorthand Notebooks (me only!)

13 interesting video pieces

About 5 wonderful drinking sessions

1 Amazing BBQ

13 Survivors and Friends


This may seem very strange, but I feel that I need to put into words how much the wee motley crew that I spent the last 9 months working with trying to obtain an NCTJ in Newspaper Journalism have meant to me. It really was a life changing year, and I know it has a lot to do with these guys.

There were originally six women and ten men. Journalism is male dominated, after all!

There were other large media classes starting at the same time and we all speak of our relief when we weren’t placed in the class with all the 16 year olds who seemed to know each other. (I was 24 starting off and I had a fear everyone would be 18).

An early video journalism class. I think we were going drinking after this...

An early video journalism class. I think we were going drinking after this…

We seemed to spend loads of time in ‘the newsroom’ in the college at the beginning. We shyly made tea and coffee when it was there and crammed some current affairs on Monday nights so as to have something to talk about when we were singled out. The tables are all pushed together and we sat around as one big table. 3 days a week of class time were enough to get to know people.

Early on people learned to bark ‘stop worrying!’ at me when I verbally whimpered and fretted about everything and anything. As I do!

Learning the frustrating but weirdly enjoyable art of Teeline Shorthand were probably the most enjoyable classes. Or at least the one where most banter happened. The boys were wonderfully immature and we usually ended up in fits of giggles when we should have been practising this psycho-motor skill. A tub of chewing gum was thrown from person to person. There was cake one time. The passages dictated to us held all kinda of hilarious innuendo. Someone started drawing male body parts in people’s notes or dropping cut-outs into people’s bags. People got slagged for being good and slagged for being bad at it. In Derry, if you’re not being slagged off it’s a bad thing.

We took turns editing the student newspaper in pairs, and it was a stressful experience especially the first time. But looking back at us working together and trying to delegate, it was really beneficial, and brought out the best and worst in us. Editing when I did, and I wasn’t cracking my shin bone off a bench, I found great quality journalism from them all.

I think our eyes were opened to a lot in Reporting class. We learned tips that we will never forget and we heard many amazing stories. We were always able to remind each other afterwards of the right way to write copy throughout the year.

I have to say sometimes during Public Affairs, Court Reporting and Media Law I was ready to tear my hair out.However the quick humour, how we gelled with the lecturers and the general atmosphere in the class was key in getting me through, usually with some enjoyment.

The three who had to drop out in mostly mysterious circumstances kind of became revered celebrities between us. W, I and L – we will never forget you!

Oldie from Halloween!

Oldie from Halloween!

In true hack style, there were many excuses like Halloween, Christmas and any exams going for a drink. We had a few memorable all-day ‘seshes’. The college in in my home town, and as the only girl from the city I’m kind of proud to say I was usually there to the last. Not my ususal thing, drinking for hours on end, I swear, but the company was the best. Everyone a bit more comfortable when the beer-wine-gin started flowing (usually in the Ice Wharf!) and I think we all really looked forward to having some time to chat.

I don’t think I was the only one worried about it coming to an end. We had a final night out on the 25th June last week, and it wasn’t the best organised, and I got a few hugs in but we mostly kept it light. Enough of us are based in Derry for now to try to reel the others in, I really hope it happens.

I’ve had fascinating discussions about all manners of things. We all have come from largely different backgrounds and chapters in life but with a similar interest in stories, including each other’s and this has meant a lot.

I know that a few of us have had personal upheavals and trials in the last nine months. I don’t mind saying that the class was a support and also a welcome distraction. I became very close to the four other (remaining) girls, we bonded quite quickly. There was a day I stood crying my heart out for an entire lunchtime to these girls in the newsroom and nobody judged! I am really grateful for their support. And to all the people who made me laugh when I didn’t feel like it.

Not to diss the boys. I definitely became close to a handful of them, too. I have had excellent relationship discussions, life comparisons, life lessons learned and I’ve walked away feeling better after some chats to people I really look up to.

The last night out! :(

The last night out! :(

There was even rumours of a secret romance late in the year. There was a super-injunction and everything. I can’t possibly comment but I hear Fiona is funnier these days? And seems happier coming from her friends…

The in-jokes are ridiculous.  The nurse who guards the scones. Gillian’s knickers. Flamboyant Ringo. Big arm freckles. The secret life of Noelle.  Immaturity abounds but that’s what was needed and welcomed! A year of laughing, stressing supporting. Heart-to-hearts in bars are my favourite.

After completing and so far doing well in my journalism qualification, I can’t see what’s next and I am terrified about the future. However, in the grand scheme of things – I know this course and this choice was the right move if only for thrusting these great and beautiful people into my life. I have said it over and over. These bunch of good journalists took up firm friend spots and I’m hoping it stays that way.

So Laura, Jacqui, Claire, Natalie, Gary, Gareth, Michael T, Steven, Declan, Michael K, Mark and Ciaran. What can I say? Every good luck, hope and happiness in all that you do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping me sane, and making me laugh and opening my eyes a little more this year. You’s have meant more than you think to this sometimes shifty Derry girl.

I was actually going to ask for your addresses and snail mail you individual cards, but maybe that would be even more strange.

Us after a mostly successful shorthand exam with our lovely teacher.

Us after a mostly successful shorthand exam with our lovely teacher.

Let’s not lose touch. Journalism Class of 2014 forever!

Interwoven Threads

The OCD writer in me is distressed that May 2014 is the only month that I did not write a blog post in my three years of blogging. Most disappointing. Well maybe it’s time to get back on the blogging and creative writing wagon. My Journalism course is coming to an end and there is once again a big question mark over my future. But I’m feeling ok. My wise Godmother often quotes the Quakers, ‘The way will open.’ And I have a feeling there is deep truth in that.

This year has allowed me to change my direction in life, perhaps take some control although it doesn’t really feel like it! I’m turning 25 this week, big quarter of a century. I really hadn’t been happy.  Lots of big things have shifted in last two or three months and now there are some green shoots that are putting a smile on my face.

One of the changes is losing some weight. I have been having a go at Slimming World since the beginning of the New Year and to date I have lost just over two stone. I have to say I had to change a lot and if my Mammy didn’t make the slimming world chips and good low fat food for me most days I would be lost! Still spoiled in a house full of children. My Dad has been enjoying having the healthy dinners too.

I’m feeling a bit more confident and people have finally started to notice, ha. This weekend my sister went away with her boyfriend and as I had some space I decided to have a clear out of some clothes. It might be counting my chickens but some of them are too big now, and I think they could find a new home through charity shops.

Picture from here.

Picture from here.

As I folded and pulled dresses and tops from the chock-a-block wardrobe I share with my sister I couldn’t help think about all the memories, all the places I’ve been and people I’ve crossed paths with while wearing these clothes.

My memory is something else that has been worrying me. My parents used to tease me and call me ‘memory woman’ when I was little as I remembered everything. Now it worries me the things I forget. I think that might be why I can’t choose a favourite book, but then again maybe I’m still searching. There is so much to read, why limit yourself?

But here I saw a nice brown dress from Next that did as Christmas clothes when I hadn’t remembered to buy something new. My friend L from Edinburgh and I saw a girl at a Suede concert in Belfast wearing the same dress, posing with no coat or anything. We shivered and tutted behind her in our layers in the ‘Norn Iron’  August!

This black dress with red roses I was never comfortable in. I had a night out after my friend Claire got married, her dog Shelby who has sadly passed away licked my false tanned legs at pre-drinks in her first martial home before we went to the Gweedore bar for some dancing.

A burgundy patterned ‘staple’ top that saw me through many days at the newspaper office before becoming a bit baggy and having a run-in with a too-hot iron.

Fun, dotty not-quite-denim trousers that saw many walks and sunny days, but were always too big so now at falling down status. Last worn on my first family outing in years to Ards Forest Park where I went on the tire swing with Ellen who’s seven and was delighted.

Vests and casual tops that served me well on ordinary, not remembered days that fill my life and make me who I am.

Outfits that have had beer spilled on them and tears dripped onto them.

Clothes are worn close, they protect and they say something about you. They’ve been tucked and squeezed into backpacks and wheely suitcases for university, and city breaks. They have probably identified me when I have gotten separated from friends. To someone I might have been the girl with the green dress and the smile.

Some items of clothing are worn in rotation, as much as I could this year with no uniform and a small class of people who might have noticed if you always wear the same thing on Wednesdays. It’s weird that they could be so much part of your life and then they rip or tear or get too small or someone says something nasty and they get discarded or passed on.

I did come across uniform pieces from my job in the opticians which I had for six years. It’s finally time to let it go, face the very uncertain future, but what to do with these emblazoned trousers and tunics? If they fall into the wrong hands we could have an imposter on the loose! Lots of laughs and lots of stress occurred while I wore these. I made some fast friends. I hurriedly changed into yoga gear or going-out clothes in the loo, cramming the uniform into a bag.

I’m not a material girl at all. I don’t own any designer stuff. Perhaps I’m judged for my mostly cheap and cheerful wardrobe. I just hope the two or three black bags of lovingly folded fresh and clean clothes go to good homes, and people do some good living while wearing them close to their hearts.

If I become employed I will slowly replace them with slightly slinkier threads that put a sparkle in my eye and help me feel up for taking on this strange and wonderful thing called life.

Picture from here.

Picture from here.



The Joy of Physical Photographs

I interviewed a lovely local lady recently about winning a prestigious photography award. Audrey Kelly of c2 Photography and Design has won a host of awards at Professional Photography Award Northern Ireland (PPANI.) She was very inspirational, and some of her winning images were breathtaking.

Her main prize was the Overall Photographer of the Year 2014 Award at the Professional Photographer Association of Northern Ireland (PPANI) Awards. Audrey clinched the top prize plus five further awards at the glittering ceremony on March 30 at Culloden Resort Hotel in Belfast.


The Dungiven mother of two also won Most Outstanding Image Award, Overall Wedding Photographer of the Year, Classical Wedding Photographer of the Year as well as being first runner-up in the Under 5’s Portrait category and winning a  Licentiate Award.

Speaking from her studio Audrey said “I still can’t quite believe it. I get wee moments of disbelief. It’s surreal.

I’m excited about the future. This is just the beginning. A lot of people would stop at this, as it’s such a big achievement, but I feel like I’m just starting.”


For even more amazingness, it’s the first time since the category opened in 1979 that the Most Outstanding Image Award has been presented to a female photographer. “Added bonuses like this make it more special.” Audrey said. The image in question is a magical shot of a bride below a beautiful circular window while her groom looks on from a nearby pew.

Audrey Kelly's image c2 photography and design

Audrey Kelly’s image c2 photography and design


Audrey has been a photographer since 2008 and opened her dream studio in 2012. She is a very wise lady, and inspired by her wonderful Granny, has some brilliant advice.


Audrey age 10 and her daughter Chloe age 10.

Audrey age 10 and her daughter Chloe age 10.


THANK U GRANNY – I want to tell you all a little story about why I’m so in love with photography and why I believe it is so important. I always believe my Granny Mullan has a lot to do with my passion for photography and has handed me down her gift. My Daddy always tells me that he never saw granny without her camera in his youngest memories. It was in no way a professional camera, but because the little woman using it was so passionate about capturing every little moment in my daddy’s and his siblings life, it didn’t need to be. She shot what was in front of her and locals knew that what ever was happening on the farm or new homes being built, life milestones etc , granny was guaranteed to be there to record it. And I think she knew that one day her grandchildren (me ) could look back on these. What really saddens me is that because of technology , the grandchildren of the future wont get to see old pictures of their mum and dads, Grannies and Grandads –  people today are excellent at capturing and recording all these special moments with their digital cameras , camera phones and what not , unfortunately though they aren’t printing them off so they are basically pointless – You’ve got to think 20 years ahead, where will Facebook, Instagram ,etc be??

Here is an image of me as a little girl. My granny organised a photographer to call to her home one Sunday as I remember and every family got their family portrait taking, Granny paid to get this done for us!
So I guess if Granny wasn’t as passionate as she was, I too wouldn’t have this to compare and amaze my little girl Chloe with just how much she looks like me at the same age of 10 … If u are all to do something this weekend , please everyone PRINT,PRINT PRINT!!

Data will last 10 years (if even) a photograph 100 years. Audrey x


I think the last few lines are so powerful. I don’t know that anyone really gets photos developed anymore. But as further evidence that I was born in the wrong century, I love looking through old photographs, and nothing beats ageing faded photographs, with faces decades younger than the ones you know, the year and subject scrawled on the back. Our family has a couple of boxes in the attic, with unalbumed prints spilling everywhere, and we never tire of looking through all our baby faces every time a milestone birthday rolls around.

There is a shortage of recent photos, and there is a risk that the physical photos will run out, so I am going to start making a conscious effort to get these precious family times and stages recorded. With my little siblings still being so young, it makes me hope and wonder and fear what will happen to all those little hopeful happy faces.

One of the commenters on Audrey’s Facebook post wrote about an app called Free Prints which allow you 40 free prints a month free, and all you pay for is £2.99 or £3.99 delivery. It means camera roll and Instagram pics can be ordered directly from your phone. I ordered some today.



Although Journalism terrifies me, I’m grateful for the wide range of amazing and talented people I meet and get to talk and listen to.

Go develop some photos, guys. I only regret I don;’t have a dark room, and a string with clothes pegs to properly old style ‘develop.’

I’m hoping the full article will appear in my placement newspaper on Friday.