The Categories

There are two categories for young journalists and a lifetime contribution category

Young journalist of the year

Open to any Welsh journalist or journalist working in Wales aged 26 or under at the end of the qualifying period, this category recognises consistently outstanding journalism displaying vibrant and engaging subject matter and strong and creative storytelling, whether through online, print or broadcast platforms. We're looking for a broad range of material in your entry that shows an ability to turn your hand to a wide variety of topics, and to tell the story by putting the reader or viewer first.

Outstanding story/feature by a young journalist

Open to any Welsh journalist or journalist working in Wales aged 26 or under at the end of the qualifying period, this category will celebrate a single outstanding piece of work by a young journalist working in Wales. It could be a piece of print, broadcast or online work, but must stand out in both its subject matter and execution.

Chairman’s Prize

These are discretionary awards available to the judges to recognise outstanding entries that fall outside the criteria for the two main awards. In last year’s event, two chairman’s prizes were awarded, one for investigative journalism, and one for journalistic endeavour and innovation.

Lifetime contribution

This will be awarded at the discretion of the judges to an individual who has made a substantial contribution to developing young journalists in Wales over the course of their life and career.

The 2021 winners

Outstanding story/feature by a young journalist

Winner - Gareth Evans

The mother and the murderer

Highly commended - Ffion Lewis

'I was trapped by rubble and could hear my kids screaming but couldn't help' Mum left with 70% burns after family's death defying escape from house explosion

Young journalist of the year

Winner - Ryan O’Neill

Highly commended - Lydia Stephens

Nick Machin

Those who met Nick will miss him but we are all richer for having spent time in his company.
— Phil Nifield


About Nick Machin

Phil Nifield writes about his friend and fellow journalist Nick Machin

Nick was universally popular, an all-round good guy, and a friend to all he met. He was also a mentor to the young journalists that came under his wing as news editor of the South Wales Echo and a husband to his beloved Sufia.

Nick, or “Machers”, arrived at the Echo as a general reporter in the late 1990s from his home county of Lincolnshire, working his way up quickly to become news editor, which is where perhaps the fun really began.

His commitment to the paper and print journalism was unquestionable. Often the first to arrive at work and the last to leave.

But despite the long hours he was the ideal manager, someone who knew how to get the best out of people.

He would introduce newcomers to all in the Echo family, help and encourage young reporters and praise them when they turned out a cracking story.

We did have the occasional disagreement – mostly when I told him what page my story should be placed on and he disagreed. But Nick never held a grudge, even when I jokingly told him: “You know what I like about you – nothing.”

He took it all in good part.

We were rivals for the worst “joke” tellers.

When the fire alarm in Thomson House, the old home of the Echo, went off he’d quip: “The Western Mail (our sister paper) has got a story” and we all chuckled! He just made people smile.

For those who had trouble with the spelling of his name he’d say "It’s machine without the 'e'!"

Nick was also the paper’s Millennium Stadium correspondent and he had the honour of being the first Englishman to take a conversion at the ground back in 1999. And one of his journalistic highlights was undoubtedly his trip to an Iron Maiden gig on Flight 666, piloted by one Bruce Dickinson.

Outside work he had so much going in his life: The Mighty Imps (Lincoln City football team), his bands, The Mighty Badger and Johnny Says Yeah, with whom he played drums, watching over and over again his TV classics like The Sweeney ("Get yer trousers on, you’re nicked" was a favourite line), Porridge and Carry On movies, with the cheeky innuendos and The City Arms pub in Cardiff, where he was a regular.

Less than four months before he died and while seriously ill, Nick was at Wembley with Sufia watching the Mighty Imps lift their first ever trophy – the Checkatrade Trophy – in their first visit to the home of English football in 133 years.

He will be missed by all who knew him, none more than Sufia Shabani Machin. Nick found true happiness after meeting Sufia in Boston, USA, during one of his many trips across the world. More recently he and Sufia spent time trekking across Europe.

Sufia was Nick’s life and Nick was Sufia’s. She loved and nursed him during what were enormously difficult times and both also adored their lovely Yorkie dog, Ellie, brought over from the USA. Ellie was so much part of the family.

Sadly, Nick and Sufia had too few years together – but what wonderful years.

Those who met Nick will miss him but we are all richer for having spent time in his company.


Our judges

Meet the judges for the first Nick Machin Prize. Thanks to all of them for getting involved, and we're very pleased to say that, with the exception of our chair Ian, all had a close professional or personal connection to Nick (or most commonly, both).

Ian MacGregor - chair of judges

Ian MacGregor is editor emeritus of The Telegraph and chair of the Society of Editors. Having started out at the Southern Evening Echo in Southampton, Ian has served as editor of the Metro, deputy editor of the Evening Standard, deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph and editor of the Sunday Telegraph over the course of a glittering career in journalism stretching over 30 years. He also sits on the board of the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

Aled Blake

Aled Blake is a freelance journalist and writer. After 18 years working for the Western Mail, South Wales Echo and WalesOnline in a range of roles, he left his job as a news editor to look after his then 21-month-old son. As well as looking after Joe, Aled has since written a book about Cardiff City’s promotion to the Premier League in 2018, Bluebirds Reunited: The Fall And Rise Of Cardiff City.

Gavin Allen

Gavin Allen has been a journalist and editor for 20 years. He was latterly an Associate Editor at but has also worked at MailOnline, Microsoft and MediaWales. He is now Digital Journalism Lecturer at Cardiff University's School of Journalism.

Gavin O'Connor

Gavin O’Connor is currently Army Media Officer Wales under the Army Media Engagement and Communications for the Ministry of Defence, based in Brecon. Formerly a reporter who completed his NCTJ training in Newcastle under the employment of Media Wales, going on to work for the Rhondda Leader, Pontypridd Observer, Neath and Port Talbot Guardian and then Deputy Editor at the Gwent Gazette and Merthyr and Rhymney Valley Express. In 2004 he was awarded The Western Mail and Echo Young Reporter of the Year, and also worked on the South Wales Echo, Western Mail and Wales on Sunday newsdesks.

Gerry Holt

Gerry Holt worked for BBC News in London for nearly a decade as a senior broadcast journalist and news editor, and later in digital development. She has worked for both regional and national newspapers, having been mentored by Nick Machin in her early career. She now leads on communications for the world class biomedical and life sciences research emerging from Cardiff University.

Nadine Linge

Having started out at Wales News in Cardiff, Nadine moved to London to join the Daily Star as a news reporter. Nadine was made Features Editor for the title in 2010, a role she still holds today.

Sara Robinson

Sara is a former print and broadcast journalist, and for sixteen years has worked in public relations. She is now a freelance communications consultant and writer, working with brands and charities across the UK. A multiple award-winning member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, she is also a past Institute of Directors’ Young Director of the Year in Wales. Sara worked closely with Nick Machin, who for many years trained her teams in the art of writing.

Simon Caney

Simon Caney is an award-winning magazine editor, who has worked on some of the UK’s biggest sporting titles and is now an editor at Bauer Media’s specialist division. He began in local newspapers more than 30 years ago and over the years has recruited many young journalists who have gone on to great things. He also went to school with Nick Machin.

Lewis Vaughan Jones

Lewis is a newsreader for BBC World News, and a presenter on the BBC News channel. A former ITN political correspondent, he started as a reporter at ITV Wales before moving to ITV Network News. He has interviewed world leaders from Boris Johnson to Donald Trump.

Talia Loderick

Talia Loderick is a Money Coach, based in Cardiff. She helps women understand their emotions and beliefs around money so they can improve their behaviour with money. Talia also delivers financial education workshops to 11-19-year-olds. Talia’s first career was in journalism, working for the Merthyr Express and Rhondda Leader newspapers, and independent news agency Wales News Service. Talia then covered consumer and personal finance stories for the BBC which eventually led her to retrain as a Money Coach.

Elena Cresci

Elena is a freelance digital journalist from South Wales. She’s worked for news organisations like the Guardian, S4C, the BBC and Channel 4 News. She worked alongside Nick as a trainee journalist at Media Wales in the early years of her career.

Previous Nick Machin Prize events

2021 event

Previous Nick Machin Prize events

2020 event

Young journalist of the year

Anna Lewis, WalesOnline

The judges said: “Anna tackles important social issues through compelling human stories. There is a real sense of depth and integrity to her writing, covering a terrific range of subjects. Her brilliant feature on Brexit in Blaenau challenged the negative stereotype about ‘Leavers’ in the Valleys.”

'My sons took their own lives two months apart'

Mum died after 'pulling hamstring' running Cardiff Half Marathon

What it's like to get just £60 a week under the government's miners' pension scheme

Why Wales' most pro-Brexit town doesn't care about European money

Outstanding story or feature by a young journalist

Marcus Hughes, WalesOnline

The judges said: “Nick would have loved this piece because it is so engaging and honest. The story of his brother’s mental health is brilliantly told, in a compelling and poignant way. You’ll go a long way to read eight words more powerful than: ‘I love him. He’s dead. I miss him.’”

Schizophrenia, my brother and me: The mental health condition we still aren't talking about

The Chairman’s Prize for investigative journalism

Olivia Davies, BBC Panorama

Judges said: “Olivia’s exposé was hugely impressive. It took incredible discipline, focus, preparation and determination. She had to live and breath that story day in, day out. Her undercover operation was so important in revealing what was really going on behind the walls of Whorlton Hall.”

BBC One - Panorama, Undercover Hospital Abuse Scandal

The Chairman’s Prize for journalistic endeavour

Jordan Jones, Y Clwb Pel-droed

The judges said: “It is great to see such ambition, drive, enthusiasm and belief. Jordan has shown real entrepreneurial spirit in a changing journalism landscape. His website shows just what can be done if you are bold, take a risk and back yourself.”

Lifetime achievement

David English, Cardiff University

Tribute by Richard Tait, former Director of the Centre for Journalism Studies at Cardiff University

What do the Editor in Chief of Media Wales, the President of the Society of Editors, the Associate Editor of the Daily Mirror, the chief football correspondent of the Times and the Director of the Cardiff University Centre for Journalism have in common? Apart from very successful careers, of course. Well, Paul, Ian, Kevin Maguire, Matt Dickinson and Richard Sambrook all got into journalism with the best possible start – thanks to the winner of this year’s Lifetime Achievement award.

Our winner was a fine journalist himself, with a nose for a good story and a wicked sense of humour. But he found his vocation in journalism training and education. No one has ever launched as many young journalists into the profession – we reckon around a thousand, over a career spanning four decades. Working first for Thomson in Cardiff and the for the university’s Centre for Journalism, he made Cardiff what Tom Hopkinson had always hoped it would become - the best place in the country to learn to be a journalist – and not only print – many of his students, like Richard, Alex Thomson at Channel 4 News and ITN’s Libby Wiener, went on to do well in broadcasting as well.

The secret of his success is that more than anything he wanted his students to get to that wonderful crossover moment where, as he used to say, ‘you’re thinking like journalists now’. And writing like journalists – his red inked subbing pen was pitiless. Woe betide anyone with That in her or his copy – regardless of anyone’s rules of grammar, it was Which – or nothing. He loved the Cardiff Blues (still does), hated cat stories (still does) and dined out on his students’ scoops such as the red light district off the Penarth Road which the police tolerated for the 1998 European Summit in Cardiff and the Rugby World Cup the following year. He combined his role as director of the newspaper option with the often thankless – but essential – managerial task of deputy director of the Centre for Journalism.

I worked closely with him for more than a decade and one moment each year summed up for me his contribution to British journalism. It came towards the end of the second semester when I’d come into his office and enquire as casually as I could manage how things were going on the jobs front. From the middle of an enormous pile of apparently (but only apparently) random papers – and I am afraid this probably identifies our winner if you haven’t already worked it out – a sheet of A4 would appear. On it were the names of 25, 28 or even 30 young men and women. Opposite each of them was the name of a good place to start your career – newsrooms like the South Wales Echo, where the much missed Nick Machin was news editor and a mentor to so many of our students. And by the end of the summer everyone had a good first job. Nearly forty years, around 1,000 careers launched. Now that is a lifetime achievement. It is with huge pleasure that I can announce that the Nick Machin lifetime achievement award goes to my friend and colleague David English.


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