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Bristol student wins prestigious Billy Dowling-Reid Award at SPA 2023

Winners of SPA 2023 - SPA

By Milan Perera, News Writer

University of Bristol student, Freya Shaw was awarded the prestigious Billy Dowling-Reid Award for Outstanding Commitment at the 2023 Student Publication Association (SPA) national awards in recognition of her services at Epigram.

During the night's proceedings, Epigram's Sport Section was also lauded with a ‘Special Mention’ award. Epigram was not the only publication from University of Bristol to be recognised at the awards with the University of Bristol Italian department's magazine, La Civetta, winning ‘Highly Commended’ award in the Best Specialist Publication Award.

Winner of Billy Dowling-Reid Award for Outstanding Commitment - Freya Shaw

‌On a night full of glamour and celebration, the annual awards took place at the Royal Marriott Hotel in central Glasgow on Saturday, April 1. It was a memorable night for student journalists, representing universities from the length and breadth of the country.

Epigram Co-Editor-In-Chief with an accolade - Milan Perera

‌The event, which marked its tenth anniversary this year, was organised by the Student Publication Association (SPA) in order to recognise the outstanding achievements of student journalists in various categories, including news reporting, feature writing, photography, and multimedia journalism.

Epigram at SPA 2023 - James Dowden

The University of Bristol's independent newspaper, Epigram was nominated for 10 awards across seven different sections including; Best Interview, Best Science Publication or Section, Best Science and Tech Piece, Rising Star, Best Website, Best Project or Initiative and the Billy Dowling-Reid Award for Outstanding Commitment.

Epigram contingent at SPA 2023 - Milan Perera

‌The three-day event opened with a reception at Glasgow Union at the University of Glasgow on Friday, March 31 that included some traditional Cèilidh routines from the participants.

Spirited dance routine during the reception at Glasgow Union - Milan Perera 

The following day was marked with a series of workshops, panel events and interactive events which featured some of the finest names in the industry which included Nick Stylianou, the BAFTA-winning Sky Correspondent and John Nicholson, the Glasgow alumni who has enjoyed a successful career as a broadcast journalist before entering into politics.

Award winning journalist Nick Stylianou during a workshop - Milan Perera 

The awards were judged by a distinguished panel, including award-winning journalists, editors, and journalism lecturers. The winners were announced one by one, each met with a resounding round of applause and cheers from the audience.

James Dowden accepting an award on behalf of Epigram - Milan Perera

Epigram's Sport Section was commended for its innovative and interactive approach to sports journalism which earned them a 'Special Mention' award.

Third-year history student and Epigram Creative Director, Freya Shaw, was announced as the winner of Billy Dowling-Reid Award for Outstanding Commintment much to the delight of the Bristol contingent.

The judge Niamh Robinson from The Daily Telegraph lauded Freya Shaw for her sterling efforts at Epigram ‘from re-coding the entire website to redesigning the magazine’s font cover and social media... Freya’s tireless commitment to innovative journalism set her aside as a worthy winner.’

Speaking to Epigram, Shaw expressed her delight to be declared winner of the highly regarded award in student journalism: 'I was overjoyed to hear that I had been awarded the Billy Dowling-Reid Award for Outstanding Commitment by the SPA this year. I have thrown myself into Epigram this year, and my success was so much down to having such an amazing team beside me. Thank you to everyone who’s supported me and my ideas this year. I couldn’t ask for a better high to end my time at Epigram on.'

James Dowden and fellow Co-Editor-in-Chief Mark Ross expressed their delight at the performance of Epigram at the awards:

‘We were delighted to see Epigram pick up two awards at the recent Student Publication Awards up in Glasgow. Huge congratulations to Freya Shaw for winning the Billy-Dowling Reid Award for Outstanding Commitment award.

Freya has worked incredibly hard this year and there hasn’t been a part of Epigram that she hasn’t thrown herself into improving. The list of her achievements is quite outstanding! Freya played a pivotal role in our print redesign, website redesign, the creation of the EpiCast podcast, the documentary of modern slavery , as well as most recently hosting the superb Women in Media Conference.

Our Sports team too had a brilliant year, producing many excellent articles focused on Bristol University sport and the achievements of university athletes and we’re so proud of their special mention on the night.

Overall, to have been nominated for 10 awards put us up there with the very best student papers in the country and is a testament to the hard work of each and every member of the team. It’s been a joy to edit the paper this year and to return home with a couple of awards is the icing on the cake to a fantastic year!’

La Civetta accepting their award - Milan Perera

‌University of Bristol Italian magazine La Civetta won the ‘Highly Commended’ award for Best Specialist Publication. Megan Davis and Bruno Quinney collected the award on behalf of the publication. Speaking to Epigram, Davis, Editor-In-Chief at La Civetta commented: ‘Of course, I’m so proud of my team of ‘Bristalians’ for their work both in Italian and English for La Civetta this year. Working on the magazine for all four years of my degree has been such a treat. But the weekend itself was far more than just about the award. Getting to know other student publications like the formidable Mancunion and the lovely team over at The Cheesegrater. That was the real treat of SPANC23!’

Megan Davis and Bruno Quinney from La Civetta at SPA 2023 - Milan Perera