News : Cockermouth student scoops top prize in youth journalism competition

A student from Cockermouth has been announced as the winner of a youth competition organised by the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership.


The competition, which challenged young people aged 18 or under to produce a news report, was organised to encourage young people around Cumbria to learn about the issues surrounding the Government’s search to find a suitable site for an underground repository for higher-activity waste in West Cumbria.


The first prize of £500 goes to Eleanor Blackley, 16, of Great Broughton, near Cockermouth. Eleanor, a sixth-form student at Cockermouth School, submitted a balanced written article which explored the process behind the area potentially taking part in the Government’s search, and the positive and negative implications that could result.


Eleanor said: “I’m really pleased to have won. I found that taking part in the competition, and learning more about what is happening, was really interesting. I gathered information from the Partnership’s website and I also saw an article in one of the newspapers which helped me to write it.


“Bits of information like it could be three times the size of the Albert Hall were interesting to me. That helped me to visualise the size of it. I found that it was good to know what could happen because I do want to still live here in the future.”


A further three runner-up prizes of £150 will go to Stainburn School, in Workington, which submitted a radio podcast piece, John Ruskin School, in Coniston, which submitted a video report, and Lauren Shaw, 16, of Cockermouth, who also submitted a video report.


The competition, which received almost 40 entries from young people around Cumbria, was judged by two local journalists – Jonathan Lee, the editor and publishing director of the North West Evening Mail, and Samantha Parker, a reporter for ITV Border – as well as Reverend Lindsay Gray of Churches Together in Cumbria, a Partnership member.


Reverend Lindsay Gray said: “It was great to see the entries from the young people from around Cumbria. The standard of some of the entries was very good and it is great to see that they have really taken the time to learn more about the issues related to this important process.”


Samantha Parker said: “The standard of the entries exceeded my expectations. Clearly a lot of work had gone into every entry and it was hard to pick a winner - it was that close.


“This is a tricky subject to make simple and understandable. I felt this was where Eleanor excelled. She had clearly done her research and looked at all the reasons for and against the underground store. Using the diagrams available meant she was able to illustrate the points that she was making. I hope her essay is included in future literature on the repository - it is the perfect overview. Well done to Eleanor, the runner ups and to everyone else who entered.”


The winning article, and the runner-up pieces, have been put on the Partnership’s website for people to view. You can find them at


The competition forms part of a large programme of public consultation which is due to run until March 23.


All secondary schools in Cumbria have also been sent a copy of material produced to help encourage discussion of some of the main issues – geology, safety, impacts and benefits.


For more information about the West Cumbria MRWS Partnership please visit




For media enquiries please contact the Partnership’s communications advisor Paul Gardner or Ian Boydon at Osprey Communications on 01524-782086 or 077667906561


1. The Chair of Partnership rotates between the three principle authorities on the Partnership – Allerdale Borough Council, Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County Council.


2. In addition to Allerdale Borough Council, Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County Council there are a range of other organisations making up the Partnership, including Barrow Borough Council, local trade unions, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Churches Together Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council, Carlisle City Council, the Lake District National Park Authority, the Cumbria Association of Local Councils, NuLeAF (the Nuclear Legacy Advisory Forum), the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and Cumbria Tourism.


3. A number of other organisations attend as ‘observing members’ including Government departments, the Isle of Man Government, CoRWM (Committee on Radioactive Waste Management), the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the safety and environment regulators.


4. The Government is looking for a community in the UK to volunteer to have a repository. Allerdale Borough Council, Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County Council decided to take part in early discussions about this process on behalf of West Cumbria because a large amount of the country’s radioactive waste is already stored in the area at Sellafield.







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