Audio from the St Bride’s Thanksgiving Service


If you weren’t lucky enough to attend the recent Journalists’ Charity Thanksgiving Service, held at St. Bride’s Church in Fleet Street on 20th February 2014 in celebration of the charity’s 150th anniversary this year, well no matter – now you can hear the highlights of the service below: Continue reading “Audio from the St Bride’s Thanksgiving Service” »

Channel Four news presenter Jon Snow flew into Birmingham from a filming trip in Greenland – and was immediately signed up as Aston Villa’s new midfield player.  The award winning journalist was special guest speaker at the charity’s annual fund raising lunch held at Villa Park on 28th March. Although he admits he is not a strong football follower, he agreed to don the No 4 shirt presented to him by the club’s managing director Paul Faulkner.

Clare Bramley, the winner bidder star auction prize – United Airlines Business First” flights to New York with three nights at the iconic Waldorf Astoria Hotel -  with Jules Kerby (left) from Hilton Worldwide, Jon Snow and Debbie Cant from United Airlines

Clare Bramley, the winner bidder star auction prize – United Airlines Business First” flights to New York with three nights at the iconic Waldorf Astoria Hotel – with Jules Kerby (left) from Hilton Worldwide, Jon Snow and Debbie Cant from United Airlines

The Midland’s district has been running the celebrity lunches for 25 years and this year’s event, sponsored by solicitors Irwin Mitchell. Other key supporters included flybe (reception sponsors), United Airlines and Hilton Worldwide who, together, provided the start auction prize: a pair of “Business First” tickets from Birmingham to New York and three nights’ stay at the iconic Waldorf Astoria Hotel.  Former Observer News Editor Chris Boffey won a luxury break in Ireland, courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

District chairman Steve Dann confirmed the lunch had raised raised more than £12,000.

It also raised some eyebrows, too, when Jon Snow spoke his attraction to the opposite sex and why he doesn’t wear a poppy on screen in November.  Questioned by the BBC Nick Owen on recently quoted remarks that he applies a “do I fancy her test” when meeting a woman for the first time, he said:

“What is biology about if it is not the sexes being attracted to each other?

“It was what men did even if it was a kind of subliminal moment instantly banished … and if it isn’t it is love!

“To deny attraction is absurd.”

Snow also defended his decision not to wear a poppy on screen during the remembrance period.

Paul Willoughby (Flybe – reception sponsor), Jon Snow, Steve Dann (Midlands Chairman)

Paul Willoughby (Flybe – reception sponsor), Jon Snow, Steve Dann (Midlands Chairman)

Jon Snow with Villa shirt

Jon Snow with Villa shirt

He said he did wear a poppy to church but did not believe in displaying any emblem on television.  The dead did not fight for freedom for us to insist that emblems must be worn,” he said.

To a question from a student about getting about getting on in journalism, he responded:  “Build up a body of experience and work. The fact of the matter is for all our efforts you can’t teach journalism, although I’m getting better as I get older and it’s a very rare thing to better at anything as you get older. You get better at honing things down. But if you’re inquisitive, if you have the capacity to write and express yourself either for broadcast or the written word, the web or whatever, you’ve got a gift.”

On his taste for colourful clothes, particularly ties and socks, he said:

“… I think if you’re going to wear a tie you should wear a tie. What is the point – and I don’t want to be disrespectful to anybody, but what is the point of wearing some old maroon rag. What does it say? It says ‘I’m actually a bit tedious, I’m terribly sorry’! I would never wear one other than the job, or to appear publicly as it were. Also, men of a certain age can look totally ridiculous – the open neck shirt can look a little bit revealing you know.”

Steve Dann (Midlands Chairman), Jon Snow, Chris Rawstron (Irwin Mitchell –Main sponsor), Laurie Upshon

Steve Dann (Midlands Chairman), Jon Snow, Chris Rawstron (Irwin Mitchell –Main sponsor), Laurie Upshon


John Featherstone, former Trustee for North West, Jane Armes, Jean Featherstone, Michelle Orson, Gerry Armes (Midlands President)

Returning to football, he said he was a Brighton and Hove Albion fan – although he’d never seen them play.  “I’m not really a football person although I know a certain amount about it,” he said.

“I once had to interview Sir Alex Ferguson and it was a blessing not to be a football person as I had a better interview with him – though I say it myself – than anybody else did because it didn’t matter to me that I would never speak to him again! Of course it does matter to any football correspondent that you can’t ask him how on earth he ever dared ban the BBC for seven long years. It was a complete scandal and it was because they’d dared make a programme about a bit of dodgy dealing involving his son.”

The Midlands district’s next fund raiser is a lunch with Fern Britton on 16th October. Further details will be announced soon.

Strident, opinionated and often controversial, Richard Littlejohn likes a debate.

As a journalist, author, broadcaster and in recent years a columnist for the Daily Mail, he has built a career out of telling it as he sees it. The result is that he has been recognised in the Press Gazette Newspaper Hall of Fame as one of the most influential journalists of the past 40 years. Continue reading “Littlejohn takes on Le Monde to meet Welsh journalists” »

Royal Ascot at York June 2005The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are to attend a special reception to mark the 150th anniversary of the Journalists’ Charity. The reception will be held at the historic Stationers’ Hall in the City of London on May 7th.

The Queen is the charity’s patron.

The charity has strong historic “Royal” links. Queen Victoria supported the charity and granted the Royal Charter, then called the Newspaper Press Fund, in 1890. She also approved the setting up of a “Victoria Pension” for widows.  Her youngest son the Duke of Albany chaired the charity appeal in 1882 and grandson Prince Arthur was chairman in 1913.  King George V became patron of the Fund in 1921 and the Queen’s father, the Duke of Wales, chaired the 1930 appeal. In his speech he said: “I know what difficulties the reporter has to meet. He is frequently working when the rest of mankind is playing or sleeping; he is out in all weathers trying to obtain stories which everyone seems to be conspiring to keep from him.”  He took over as patron when he became king in 1936.

Chairman of the Trustees Laurie Upshon said: “It is a great honour that the Queen and Prince Philip have agreed to take part in our anniversary celebrations. We are also very grateful for the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers for allowing us to use the Hall for this very special occasion.”

Space at the reception will be very limited but we have reserved a number of invitations for members. These will be allocated by ballot. If you would like to take part in the ballot, please send your letter of interest to David Ilott, the Charity’s Director, at Dickens House, 35 Wathen Road, Dorking, RH4 1JY, by 18th April. We know demand will be strong so we will only be able to notify those selected by ballot.

Image kindly donated by Mirrorpix

Laurie Upshon, Philippa Kennedy and Cheryl Douglas ( Gorkana Group)

Laurie Upshon, Philippa Kennedy and Cheryl Douglas ( Gorkana Group)


Fleet Street veteran Philippa Kennedy is the winner of the Journalists’ Charity special award for 2014.  The honour was announced at the National Press Awards at Marriot Hotel in Grosvenor Square, London, on 1st April.  The event is organised by the Society of Editors and the award is sponsored by media database specialists Gorkana. The winner is selected by the Society’s Trustees and reflects a unique contribution to journalism or to the charity’s work.  Philippa has been chairman of the London Press Ball since 2005 when she revived the event as a fund-raiser for the charity.  The award recognised her role in raising more than £200,000 during that time.

Philippa entered journalism under the Daily Mirror training scheme. She was editor of the Press Gazette from 1998 to 2002 and her career in Fleet Street spanned 25 years. She was a reporter on the Sun for seven before joining the Daily Express where she stayed for 14 years, becoming the paper’s first woman news editor and later the paper’s chief feature writer and columnist.

She became a director of the London Press Club in 2001 and was elected Deputy Chairman in 2003.

One of the original panel of the popular lunchtime show Loose Women, she also presented the media show – Media Brief – for BBC News 24 and BBC1, a three-part history of Fleet Street – Out of Print –  and a two parter on the regional press – Read All About It – for BBC Radio 4.

“I’m very touched and honoured.  This is most unexpected but I’m very happy to accept it on behalf of the London Press Ball committee who have worked so hard to raise money for the Journalists’ Charity over the past 10 years. Although I’ve stepped down as chair  I will carry on supporting the charity and hope that the ball goes on from strength to strength.  Ours is a precarious business as we all know, so it’s comforting to know that the charity is there to help when it’s needed.”

Philippa was awarded an OBE in 2003 for services to journalism.

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Many of Britain’s top media names have signed up  as “Ambassadors” to help the Charity in our anniversary year. Lord Black of Brentwood, Executive Director of the Daily Telegraph, has kindly agreed to be our anniversary appeal chairman. In addition leading journalists from print, broadcasting and online have lent their names to support the charity’s work…and the list is still growing. Current Ambassadors are: Continue reading “AMBASSADORS” »

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Richard Walker (branch chairman), Bill Leckie (Master of Ceremonies) Margaret Morrison (organising Committee) and James Lland (event producer).

More than 200 journalists and public relations executives turned up at Glasgow’s Radisson Blu Hotel on 1st March for the annual West of Scotland Press Ball.


Herald & Times Editors Tony Carlin (Evening Times); Magnus Llewellin (Herald), Richard Walker (Sunday Herald and branch chairman)

The Ball, sponsored by Camelot, raised nearly £15,000 for the Journalists’ Charity. Richard Walker, the Editor of the Sunday Herald and Chairman of the West of Scotland branch of the charity, was the main speaker.

Broadcaster and journalist Bill Leckie was Master of Ceremonies.


Denny Macgee and main raffle prize winner Matty Sutton (Evening Times)

The main money-spinner was a popular raffle with a top prize of a pair of tickets to Los Angeles, donated by British Airways, and won by Matty Sutton a reporter on the Evening Times.


Denny Macgee (British Airways) and Mary MacGee.

The West of Scotland has been one of the charity’s main fundraisers for many years and the Ball is one of the year’s major highlights.




Audio Now Available!All I see is this huge sea of people – many of them titans of our profession. You can understand how frightening that is!

Its like when I was being interviewed for a BBC job, there’s that many people in the room….

I can see people I trained with on my local newspaper – the Wokingham Times. I always feel the need to say “hail Adam Mackinlay” at this point as he was the editor who took me on as an eighteen-year-old when no-one else would. Continue reading “St Bride’s Thanksgiving Service – Alex Crawford’s Address” »

Audio Now Available!

Extract from Dickens’ Address to 1865 Festival Dinner

By Charles Dickens

Read by Simon Callow, Actor

At the second annual dinner of the Institution, held at the Freemasons’ Tavern, on Saturday, the 20th May, 1865, the following speech was delivered by the chairman, Mr. Charles Dickens, in proposing the toast of the evening:

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, – When a young child is produced after dinner to be shown to a circle of admiring relations and friends, it may generally be observed that their conversation – I suppose in an instinctive remembrance of the uncertainty of infant life – takes a retrospective turn. As how much the child has grown since the last dinner; what a remarkably fine child it is, to have been born only two or three years ago, how much stronger it looks now than before it had the measles, and so forth. When a young institution is produced after dinner, there is not the same uncertainty or delicacy as in the case of the child, and it may be confidently predicted of it that if it deserve to live it will surely live, and that if it deserve to die it will surely die. The proof of desert in such a case as this must be mainly sought, I suppose, firstly, in what the society means to do with its money; secondly, in the extent to which it is supported by the class with whom it originated, and for whose benefit it is designed; and, lastly, in the power of its hold upon the public. I add this lastly, because no such institution that ever I heard of ever yet dreamed of existing apart from the public, or ever yet considered it a degradation to accept the public support. Continue reading “St Bride’s Thanksgiving Service – Fifth Reading” »

Audio Now Available!

70 years as a journalist

By W. F. Deedes

Read by Murdoch MacLennan, chief executive of the Telegraph Media Group

Bliss it was in the summer of 1931 to have a job – any job; for the number of unemployed had climbed to 2.71 million. But to be a newspaper reporter was very heaven!

The world was in turmoil. Within days of my joining the Morning Post, Britain faced bankruptcy, Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour government fell, and an all-party coalition under pressure from King George V was cobbled together to deliver us. Continue reading “St Bride’s Thanksgiving Service – Fourth Reading” »

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