Graduates celebrate Royal Television Society awards success

Graduates celebrate Royal Television Society awards success

Two graduates from the University of Cumbria are celebrating wins at the annual Royal Television Society (RTS) North East and Border Awards.

Amon Shaw and Tom Strachan were among those recognised at the glittering 2019 RTS event, which took place at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead hotel.

More than 400 people attended the event including actress Brenda Blethyn, star of ITV’s Vera, and a host of familiar faces from regional news centres such as ITV Border and BBC’s Look North.

Amon, 23, of Newark, Nottinghamshire, won the Regional Student Award: Camera and Sound, impressing the judging panel with his film “It’s Like Snowboarding but with Wheels”.

He graduated from the university’s Institute of the Arts with a first-class honours degree in Adventure Media in July last year. He is currently working as a freelance.

Amon said: “I am very surprised to win. I could not have done it without all the people that helped me out and the Mountainboard community, so thanks must to them.

“I’m now working on some films for TRAMPA, which is a company that makes electric skateboards in Nottingham.”

Tom Strachan, 33, won the Professional Excellence: Editing category for his work on CBBC’s The Dumping Ground, the Tyneside-based series focusing on the lives and experiences of young people in care which is consistently the channel’s most popular drama and was named ‘Best Drama’ on Saturday night.

Tom graduated from the University of Cumbria in 2009 after honing his editing skills in TV and Film Production.

Freelance drama editor Tom, who lives in Gateshead with his English teacher wife and fellow University of Cumbria graduate Jen and their two young daughters Lily and Poppy, also has BBC’s Casualty, Tracy Beaker and Inspector George Gently among his career credits to date.

Tom, who is originally from Lancaster, said: “This is the first individual award I’ve won. I didn’t expect to win, particularly as I was up against two people from Vera, a show I want to work on.”

Reflecting on his success, Tom continued: “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the University of Cumbria. I came to Carlisle specifically because of the AV department at the Brampton Road campus and the media course. It was exactly what I wanted. I also knew that the university, because of its size, was going to be a place where I could focus and where I wouldn’t be lost among large numbers of students.

“It’s a very easy place to go into, spend your time studying and between projects you could borrow equipment and make your own stuff. I was also received great advice and support from tutors which was to really focus on one skill rather than try and do a bit of everything.

“That was wonderful and I really got into editing during my foundation year of my course. I knew quickly I wanted to work in TV."

He added: "When it comes to editing it is great being part of that final stage of the process, taking bits of footage once it has been filmed and crafting it into the best performances from the actors and the best scenes. You get a real chance, before it goes out on screen, to put your stamp on it.”

Michael Mitchell, principal lecturer in humanities and media arts at the University of Cumbria, said: “Television is a really tough industry to get into and you need to be quite resilient. Both Amon and Tom have shown perseverance and resilience and been rewarded for that.

“We work with our students to help them produce the work they want to, encouraging them whilst instilling important professional attributes too. Winning these RTS awards, one from someone fresh from graduation and another who was here 10 years ago, is testimony to those skills and attributes we help students to develop during their time with us.”

Roddy Hunter, director of the university’s Institute of the Arts, said: “It was a fabulous night for the Institute of the Arts at the University of Cumbria. Huge congratulations to our award-winning alumnus Tom Strachan and recent graduate Amon Shaw on their well-deserved success.

“Congratulations also to our academic members of staff whose high-quality teaching and industry insight contributed toward their success.”

The University of Cumbria also sponsored the first category of the evening, the Rising Star award, with Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic) Professor Rob Trimble presenting the award to recipient Giles Bowman, a production specialist with ITV SignPost.

Graeme Thompson, chair of the regional RTS Awards committee, said: “As television production in the region continues to thrive, the Royal Television Society awards play an important part in celebrating the best and brightest professional excellence but also encouraging and supporting future talent from across the region.”

More than 50 media professionals were tasked with judging the awards which secured more than 100 entries this year. The awards ceremony took place on 23 February 2019.