Broadcaster Fiona offers real-life industry experience for university's media and performing arts students
‘An Evening with Fiona Armstrong’ took an audience of over 100 people on a journey through the life and career of this broadcasting icon. The University of Cumbria’s Brampton Road campus in Carlisle hosted the night in association with the RTS North East and Border.
Starting her onscreen television career with, what was then, Border Television, after a brief stint on local radio and with the BBC news team in Manchester, Fiona left the region to work for ITN then later GMTV and the BBC. Fiona has since made a welcome return to the region and has continued to both present and produce many programmes for ITV Border including local current affairs programme, Border Life. Harry King, former producer/director at Border Television, returned to his roots of nearly 50 years and floor managed the event, ably supported by BA Performing Arts student Katy Wright. The audience warm-up between Harry and the host for the evening, national TV and radio executive and one of Carlisle’s best known citizens, John Myers, was a wonderful step back into the archives of Border history.
Jim Graham, former managing director of Border Television, paid a heartfelt tribute to Fiona, and the evening covered her career in the media, including how she handled the coverage of the Lockerbie disaster in 1988 - one of the most hard-hitting and painful stories ever reported. John Myers also led the audience through her love of fishing, her recent PhD in ‘Highlandism’, how she manages to combine her role in the media and her duties as Lord Lieutenant of Dumfries and why she believes her job was the most exciting in television.
In closing the event, University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor, Professor Julie Mennell said: “We are thrilled to be able to co-host, with the RTS North East and Border and ITV Border, an event to celebrate the career and significant achievements of Fiona Armstrong and to provide a real-life industry experience for the media and performing arts students who produced the event. We were delighted that so many of her former colleagues, honorary fellows and University of Cumbria staff and students were able to join us for what was a truly entertaining evening. This is the first of many such events which we plan to hold over the coming months and we look forward with anticipation to the next one.”
The event was kindly sponsored by Cartmell Shepherd, with donations to the Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw, Cumbria’s Children’s Hospice.