Gemma Hodgson, an MA Sports Journalism student at St Mary’s, University, Twickenham will be the first recipient of the Thomas Read Bursary in Central London on Tuesday 3rd November 2015.
The newly established bursary is aimed at helping those with a disability fulfill their ambitions of becoming a journalist. The bursary has been established in collaboration with the Journalism Diversity Fund and was implemented earlier this year with donations from Thomas’ friends and family.
Despite having cerebral palsy from an early age, Thomas overcame many obstacles to become a journalist at Sky Sports News, but died unexpectedly in his sleep on 2nd January 2015, aged 26. Gemma will receive her award from the Read family at the Journalism Diversity Fund reception in Northcliffe House.
Gemma said "I am so grateful to the Read family for this opportunity and feel honoured to be the first recipient. It has been my ambition to be a sports journalist and broadcaster for a long time and once I have finished my course at St Mary's I really hope to be able use my training to raise the profile of para-sport in the UK media to help create more positive perceptions of disability."
Course director, Daragh Minogue said “Gemma is a worthy recipient and I think the Read family will be delighted that the award is going to a trainee sports reporter.”
In addition to their love of sport and journalism, Thomas and Gemma share another connection. Thomas was a torchbearer at the London 2012 Olympics whilst Gemma performed at the opening ceremony. Gemma was later diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) in 2013 and had to abandon her dream of becoming a professional dancer.
So far, Gemma has gained valuable work experience with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Radio Peterborough, the Cambridge Evening News and the Wheelchair Rugby World Challenge in London. As part of the award Gemma will undertake work experience at Sky Sports News.
Daragh went on to say “I think what the Read family has done is so inspiring. Their message to aspiring journalists with a disability is that it should never be a barrier when you have talent. Their son Thomas demonstrated that and I believe Gemma will too.”
For more information on our MA programme please visit: www.stmarys.ac.uk/postgraduate-courses-london/ma-sports-journalism