Keith Miller from Diageo (left) and Keith Mackenzie

WEST HIGHLAND Free Press reporter Keith Mackenzie has been named Diageo Journalist of the Year at the annual Highlands and Islands Media Awards.

Keith was the unanimous choice of the judges for his strength of writing across a number of disciplines, including news, features and sport. He also picked up the Jim Love Memorial Trophy for Reporter of the Year title and just missed out on being shortlisted for Sports Reporter of the Year.

Keith’s prize, which includes £500, of which £300 will be gifted to a charity of his choice, was presented at the annual Highlands and Islands Press Ball in Inverness, organised by Quatro PR.

Judges chairman Gordon Fyfe said: “Keith is a worthy winner of our top award, 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 West Highland Free Press provides to its readers.”

Ian McCormack, the long serving editor of the West Highland Free Press, was given a special recognition award.

It marked the end of an era on his retirement after more than 40 years with the Skye-based weekly newspaper. Ian’s last day at the helm was on Friday, 31 February having published the 2,290th edition of the weekly paper where he became editor on 6 March 1976.

Journalists from the recently-formed Highland News and Media Ltd picked up four honours. Callum Mackay was named Photographer of the Year; Eric Cormack, won the Top Shot of the Year award; Louise Glen, produced the Top Story of the Year; and Val Sweeney was named Feature Writer of the Year.

The Press and Journal collected three awards. Both Chris Maclennan (Young Journalist of the Year) and Andy Skinner (Sports Reporter of the Year) retained titles they won last year, while Stan Arnaud picked up the newly-introduced Top Business Story of the Year award, sponsored by Inverness Chamber of Commerce.

The Shetland Times was crowned Newspaper of the Year and Rudhach, based in Point, Lewis, took the Community Newspaper of the Year title.

Shona Macmillan, who works for the community newspaper Fios, in North Lewis, won the Bòrd na Gàidhlig award for Best Use of Gaelic, while the Best Use of Digital Media category was won by the Stornoway Media Centre.

Iain Grant, the former editor of the Caithness Courier and John O’Groat Journal, received the Barron Trophy for lifelong achievement in journalism.

A HIPBMA Special Recognition Award was presented to the Orcadian, last year’s Newspaper of the Year, who used their £500 prize money to set up the Outreach4CLAN campaign which raised £22,786.07 for an expansion of vital charity services in Orkney — over double what the appeal set out to achieve.

The Highlands and Islands Press Ball and Media Awards was held at the Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness. Principal sponsor was Diageo, and a new sponsor this year, Statkraft, provided additional support along with Quatro PR, Chivas Brothers, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the National Union of Journalists, Hub North Scotland and Inverness Chamber of Commerce.

The ball’s charity fundraising will benefit four local organisations: Day 1; Birchwood Highland; Alzheimer Scotland and Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS).

The full list of award winners is –

Top Business Story of the Year (sponsored by Inverness Chamber of Commerce)
Stan Arnaud, Press and Journal

Best Use of Gaelic (sponsored by Bòrd na Gàidhlig)
Shona Macmillan, Fios

Best Use of Digital Media
Stornoway Media Centre

Young Journalist of the Year (Alex Main Trophy)
Chris Maclennan, Press and Journal

Sports Reporter of the Year
Andy Skinner, Press and Journal

Photographer of the Year
Callum Mackay, Highland News and Media Ltd

Top Shot of the Year 
Eric Cormack, Highland News and Media Ltd

Reporter of the Year (Jim Love Memorial Trophy)
Keith Mackenzie, West Highland Free Press

Top Story of the Year
Louise Glen, Highland News and Media Ltd

Feature Writer of the Year
Val Sweeney, Highland News and Media Ltd

Community Newspaper of the Year
Rudhach, Lewis

Newspaper of the Year
Shetland Times

Diageo Journalist of the Year
Keith Mackenzie, West Highland Free Press

Barron Trophy for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism
Iain Grant, Grant News Agency, Thurso

HIPBMA Special Recognition Awards
Orcadian
Ian McCormack