A FORMER Priestley student has been rewarded for her journalism by the George Orwell Society.
Meg Byrom, who left Priestley with A*s in Geography and English as well as an A in Politics, won the review category of The Orwell Society Young Journalist’s Award.
“It was a big surprise to me as I’d pretty much entered the prize as a way to distract myself from exam revision,” said Meg, who is now studying Politics at University of Cambridge.
“I really was over the moon, The Orwell Society is an amazing organisation working to keep his works and political thought alive and relevant. I’m very honoured that they felt my review aligned with their mission.”
The Orwell Society Young Journalist’s Award, organised in conjunction with the NUJ, George Orwell’s union, recognises the writing of promising students of journalism or working journalists aged 30 or below.
Prizes totalling £4,000 were awarded across two categories, with each winner receiving £1,500 and £500 going to each runner-up.
Former Hope Academy pupil Meg, who was also Priestley’s College Council president, said she planned to put the prize money towards a holiday and her career.
“I think I’ll invest most of it back into my career as it’ll allow me to undertake some work experience, which I couldn’t have done because most are unpaid and in London,” she said.
Meg’s competition entry was an arts review of singer Sam Fender and his most recent album ‘Seventeen Going Under’.
She discussed Fender’s left-wing music, with his discussions of poverty, alienation, his distinct regional identity, and how his narratives have gathered support from large swathes of the North East.
Talking about what inspired her, Meg said she knew she wanted to write about ‘The North’.
“Orwell’s works from ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’, to his political essays on English nationalism and beyond felt as though they could be written about our current moment, with the striking inequalities between north and south,” she said.
“Now living in Cambridge, I hear so many generalisations about northern voters and northern politics, classist opinions of Brexit voters, virtuousness from so-called ‘left-wing’ activists and a sort of elitism that views anything outside of London as irrelevant. I felt like Orwell understood our region better than academics or politicians and I think Sam Fender does too.”