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BBC chief to deliver Bob Friend Memorial Lecture at University of Kent

BBC Director-General Mark ThompsonMedia giants Sky News and the BBC will be coming together to celebrate outstanding journalism during a special event at the University of Kent on Wednesday, 3 March.

Mark Thompson, the Director-General of the BBC, will deliver the Bob Friend Memorial Lecture at the University, while Rob Kirk, Editorial Development Manager for Sky News, will present a first-year student from the University's Centre for Journalism with the Bob Friend Memorial Scholarship.

Both the lecture and scholarship were established in 2009 in a partnership between Sky News, the University of Kent and the Friend family, to provide a lasting memorial to the life and career of Bob Friend.

Bob Friend was the original face of Sky News and was also a long-standing BBC journalist earlier in his career.

Now in its second year, the scholarship is awarded to a student who has demonstrated outstanding academic and professional merit, as well as potential for their future career. The winning student has his or her first-year tuition fees paid, and they are also guaranteed a four-week work placement at Sky News later in the year.

Candidates for the highly sought-after scholarship have to take part in a rigorous three-stage application process, which involves displaying their prowess in multimedia journalism, current affairs, spelling and grammar, and being interviewed by a panel of judges representing Sky News, the University and the Friend family.

Mr Thompson's lecture and the awarding of the scholarship take place at the University of Kent's Pilkington Building, Medway campus, at 6pm on 3 March.

The event is free but admission is by ticket only, allocated strictly on a first come, first served basis. To apply, please contact the Gulbenkian Booking Office on 01227 769075. A brief question and answer session will follow the main lecture.

Mark Thompson was appointed Director-General of the BBC in May 2004, after being Chief Executive of Channel Four since December 2001. He had previously worked at the BBC for more than 20 years, becoming Director of Television in April 2000, responsible for the management and running of all BBC network television channels.

Late Sky News presenter Bob FriendMr Thompson said: 'I was fortunate enough to work closely with Bob. He was an exceptional journalist for over fifty years and the best mentor I, as a young producer, could have hoped for. This scholarship is a testament to an outstanding man and a reminder of the important values that quality journalism brings to our society.'

John Ryley, Head of Sky News, delivered the inaugural Bob Friend Memorial Lecture last year. He said: 'We are delighted to be presenting this award for the second year running. Bob Friend was a highly-respected journalist and well-loved at Sky News. Giving young journalists a great start in the profession is something of which Bob would have been immensely proud.'

Bob Friend joined Sky News at its launch 21 years ago and quickly became the face of the fledgling channel - the first European 24-hour news channel. In his 14 years with Sky News he won a glowing international reputation for warmth, intelligence and humour. He also won a number of awards for his presenting skills. Bob Friend died in October 2008 and is survived by his wife, Marion, and their two daughters.

The University of Kent's Centre for Journalism attracts top students from the UK, Europe and further afield to study innovative degrees that combine traditional journalism skills with digital and multi-media communications, alongside rigorous academic teaching of history, politics and law.


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