“You can think of our mentors as a bunch of Nellies.”
“In a room full of journalists, old and new, Robin helped launch year two of the John Schofield Trust Mentoring scheme.
“It is a testament to who John was and what he represented to so many of us — and indeed our admiration for what the Trust that bears his name is doing — that we are all here tonight to mark the first anniversary of the Trust’s launch.
He continued: “Last month would have marked the 25th anniversary of John starting in the news business as a graduate trainee at ITN. Those of us who came to know him remember his professionalism, his wonderful story-telling skills, his determination to get the story — and to get it right.
“He was not yet 30 when he died, but he had already made a real mark, as one of the best and the brightest of his generation. He was also great fun to be around, always full of ideas, and stories, always a welcome presence wherever he showed up.
“John’s career, brutally short though it was, showed that with talent and determination — and yes, with some luck as well — you can succeed in this business, even if you’re young. What the Trust’s mentoring scheme is meant to do is help young journalists succeed, by offering advice, guidance, sometimes, I suspect, a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear when things don’t go well.
“So a bit of investment in the future, a bit of nurturing, and a lot of inspiration, provided by journalists who know what it’s like, who’ve learned the hard way, and who’ve made it to the top.
The esteemed presenter, who works in his office under a picture of John Schofield, also offered his own advice to the gathered crowd of correspondents, editors and young journalists: “When I started out more than 40 years ago, I was offered the benefit of a training programme known as “sitting next to Nellie”. In other words, you found someone who knew what they were doing, sat down next to them, and learned from them. If you like, you can think of our mentors as a bunch of Nellies.”
With that, he introduced the 2013 mentors and, like any good journalists’ party, the networking continued while the drinks flowed.