A PASSIONATE reporter working for The Whitehaven News and Times & Star has been highly commended in a national award.

Lucy Starkie, who attends Darlington College once a week as part of her journalism apprenticeship, was one of four from around the country on the shortlist in this year's Apprentice of the Year category at the NCTJ Awards for Excellence.

At an awards ceremony in Essex last night, hosted by Sarah Hewson of Sky News, Lucy was commended in the category.

The 28-year-old said: "It is a great honour to be shortlisted for such a prestigious award. It was fantastic to have been recognised out of 125 apprentices all over the country.

"I love being a local reporter and think it continues to be an important role in the community. I will continue to listen to the concerns and stories of local people and do the very best I can."

Lucy, who lives in Whitehaven, added: "I would like to thank my mentors, Julie Morgan and Jenny Barwise, and my college tutor, Sue Calvert for caring about me and the work I do."

Julie attended last night's ceremony with Lucy and said she was extremely proud of her achievement.

She said: "Lucy has been a joy to train and fully deserved to be shortlisted. She is everything a keen, dedicated young reporter should be, and I hope she continues to thrive.

"Lucy is a credit to herself and all of us who have been involved in her training."

Lucy started her NCTJ apprenticeship in September 2017 and combines NCTJ multimedia diploma study at Darlington College with on-the-job training where she produces work for Newsquest Cumbria's titles including The Whitehaven News, Times & Star and News & Star.

Her work has made the front pages on many occasions, with the majority of her stories self-sourced.

At college, Lucy has gold standard grades in subjects including Essential Journalism and Media Law and will complete final exams early next year.

Judges at last night's event, held at Quendon Hall, were from The Guardian, BBC, and Sky Sports News.