A South Hams parish magazine from has officially made it into the nation’s top ten. The Wembury Review was awarded 10th place in the National Parish Magazine Awards, out of a total of 450 entries.
The Review, published by St Werburgh’s Church in Wembury, celebrated its 50th birthday in 2022 but had never entered the competition before.
“I thought this would be the year to have a go,” said editor Nicholas Whitehead, a former print and broadcast journalist. “We had some strong stories in the first part of the year with Ukrainian refugees settling in the village. It’s not often you find yourself putting pictures of a bomb-damaged school or a bullet-riddled car in a parish magazine. One of our new residents and her young son were lucky to escape with their lives.”
Nicholas said the recipe for a successful magazine was a good range of content and a keen sense of what is relevant to the readers: “They’re the people who matter,” he said. “If you keep the readers happy, then publishers, contributors and advertisers are happy.”
The Wembury Review is also a commercial success, donating £5,000 to St Werburgh’s church funds in 2022. “That’s all thanks to our team,” said Nicholas.
“We’re lucky to have retired professionals in charge of every aspect – circulation, finance and advertising. Together, we keep revenue up and cost down.”
Nicholas is another retired professional, having been crime correspondent on a daily tabloid, the South Wales Argus, before moving on to current affairs with ITV.
Nicholas, who has been editing the Wembury Review for four years, said “The only surprising thing (about editing a parish magazine is how very similar it is to a big newspaper.
“The objectives, challenges, and inter-departmental tensions are just the same as in the nationals. Anyone who thinks a parish magazine is not a ‘proper’ publication can think again. This is not a toy. It may be small but it’s real.”
The Parish Magazine Awards scheme is for editors and their fellow volunteers all over the country who devote an enormous amount of time and effort free of charge to producing parish magazines that service their communities every month of the year. Certificates are presented to each category winner.
The website states: “It is the aim to give magazine editors recognition for the service they provide, which so often goes un-rewarded, and perhaps give an incentive to those who are considering joining their ranks in future.”