29/08/2006

North Belfast student wins national award

Northern Ireland student, Lyra McKee, has beaten off competition from across the UK to win a prestigious journalism award.

16-year-old Lyra, a former student at St Gemma's High School, won the Sky Young Journalist Award 2006, for an article examining the issue of suicide in north Belfast.

She wrote the piece whilst working with Children's Express, a voluntary sector news agency that helps develop young people's interest in the media.

One hundred and sixty-two students, aged between 14 and 19-years-old entered the competition.

Congratulating Lyra, during an event to celebrate her success at Children's Express offices in Belfast, Will Haire, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Education, said: "It is a pleasure to see a young person from Northern Ireland win such a prestigious award.

"Lyra's article was informative, touching and delicately handled. It demonstrated an ability and level of maturity beyond her years, especially in relation to such a sensitive topic.”

He continued: "To be shortlisted for the award would be an honour, but to go on and win the regional and then overall UK awards is an outstanding achievement. I am sure her school friends and teachers at St Gemma's and her colleagues at Children's Express are extremely proud of her."

Rob Kirk, Editorial Development Manager of Sky News judged the entries: "It was a difficult brief, and the young people really tackled the task with a lot of energy and imagination. They all did well, and the winners did very well indeed."

Lyra, who won an IMAC computer and editing software for her school and a DV camcorder for herself, volunteers for Children's Express, a UK wide news agency run by the voluntary sector. Children's Express develops young people's interest in the news and helps them to produce articles on issues that are important to them and the wider public interest.

(EF/KMcA)

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