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Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Whicker’s World Foundation Awards

The finalists for the inaugural Whicker’s World Foundation Awards have been announced.

The awards were set up in memory of legendary broadcaster Alan Whicker and have attracted entries from across the globe.  Finalists have been whittled down to five entries in each of three different sections:  the Funding Award, Veteran’s Award and Audio Award.

The top prize is the Funding Award of £80,000 which will be awarded to emerging talent (under 30 year’s old) who are looking to make their first full-length documentary.  The five finalists, who will be pitching their ideas at Sheffield Doc/Fest in June, proposed stories from Burma, South Sudan, the Amazon, the USA and Syria.

The winners in all three categories will be announced at the Award’s Night at The Crucible, Sheffield, also on 14th June.

Founder of the Whicker’s World Foundation, Valerie Kleeman, photographer, programme consultant and Whicker’s partner for more than 40 years, said: “Alan’s wish was that the Foundation should provide a platform for young documentary makers. He would be amazed and delighted by so much of what we have seen.  We looked for surprise and originality and have not been disappointed- the sheer variety of entries has been overwhelming.  The spirit of Whicker’s World is alive and flourishing in the most unexpected and inaccessible places.”

The finalists in detail:
The Veteran’s Award

The £4,000 winner of the award for veteran first-timers over the age of 50 will be a contest between Keith Hoult, a former IT manager from Witney, and Norman Fowler, the former Conservative cabinet minister turned cub reporter at the age of 77.


Fluechtlinge – Refugee Keith Earnest Hoult, a fan of Alan Whicker’s ‘gentle approach’ to interviewing was inspired to create a ten-minute film about Syrians seeking refuge in a disused airport used for the Berlin Airlift. When he witnessed his friend’s wife Caroline trying to help refugees against a growing backlash he ‘felt the urge to film it if only for her family to reflect on later in life’. Keith learnt his film-making skills at the SAE Institute after redundancy and divorce turned his life upside-down. Judges were impressed that he made this entirely self-funded film as ‘a simple tale of ordinary people helping other ordinary people at their time of most desperate need’.

The Truth About Aids – Reporter /Presenter Norman Fowler. Producer Smita Patel/Editor Hugh Levinson for BBC World Service.  In 1987, as Health Secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s government, Norman Fowler united forces with Chief medical Officer Sir Donald Acheson to create a leaflet called Don’t Die of Ignorance. Every UK household received a copy explaining, in unusually frank detail for the time, exactly how HIV is spread. Thirty years on Lord Fowler travels the UK, US, Australia and Russia to compare experiences and find out how far prejudice is still hampering effective policies for AIDS prevention. In the submitted extract he engages with drug addicts on the streets and congressmen in the White House, dodging unwanted attention from local police along the way.

Audio Awards

After much soul searching the five finalists of Audio Awards were felt by the judges to be those that best exemplified the criteria – to coax the human spirit into revealing itself, tell us something new and unexpected about the world and excite wonder. They are: –

Lore’s Story: recorded and presented by Lore Windemuth-Wolfson and Produced by Elizabeth Burke for BBC Radio 4.

The Dhammazedi Bell: produced by Francesca Pancetta for BBC Radio 3.

Shoah in Jerusalem: written and presented by Jonathan Freedland and produced by Sarah Peters. The editor was Iain Chambers for BBC Radio 4.

Little Volcanoes: recorded, written and produced by Catherine Fitzgerald, sound mix by Matt Thompson and Mike Woolley. A Sky Arts online commission. Made in the UK.

Johnny O: The Pirate’s Story: recorded written and produced by Lu Olkowski edited by Sean Cole, Samara Freemark, Amanda Aronczyk and Brendan Baker who also did the sound design. Recorded in the US, funded by KCRW and broadcast in Australia on RN Radio Tonic, part of the Australian Broadcast Company.

All finalists will receive Hindenburg editing software. The winner of the £4,000 first prize and the £1,000 runner’s up award will be announced at Sheffield Doc/Fest on 14 June.

In addition the Awards Committee will also be granting award highly commended prizes of £250 each to two applicants. The first is Eve Conlon from Tyneside, UK for “Student Gamblers”- where Eve investigates just how bad the rising problem of student gambling from secondary school to university has become.” The second was Joel Carnegie from Geelong in Australia for “From Music into Silence”; the story of Australia’s only fully-qualified music-thanatologist, who uses his love of the harp to ease the suffering of the terminally ill. These short reports exemplified sensibility, promise and commitment.

The Funding Award

The judges were excited by the number and the variety of strong stories being proposed from across 5 continents.  The full proposals will not be published at this stage to safeguard the applicant’s work.


Burma’s Lost Royals – Alex Bescoby’s story centres around a forgotten monarchy and an intriguing quest that threatens to tear a family apart.

Inga of The Amazon – Jennifer Chui on the trail of a tiny plan with very big ideas.

Americaville – Adam James Smith on the pursuit of Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness in a Chinese replica of an American town, right down to lessons in cooking with Jello.

Mukesh – Ricky Norris on the powerful, high ranking UN whistleblower who tried to stop genocide in South Sudan.

Lessons from My Father – When Safwon Suleyman’s estranged father, a Syrian exile in Turkey, tells his son he is “on a personal Jihad to rebuild the Syrian human being” Safron is at a loss to what a 60 year old former factory owner can do, but as the father’s free school starts to rise from nothing Safwon is drawn in.

About Whicker’s World Foundation

Last June the Whicker’s World Foundation, whose principal aim is to give a much needed fillip to authored documentary storytelling in the UK, launched three new documentary awards worth a total of £100,000 for the promotion of curiosity in programme making, generously funded by a legacy left by the celebrated broadcast journalist Alan Whicker, who died in 2013.

The deadline for entries closed on February 14 and the next round opens on June 15. Details at