By Safiyyah Choudry
As I stumbled upon The Tandridge Independent paper stand in Waitrose in Caterham, little did I know that it would mark the beginning of an incredible journey. Intrigued by its local relevance and feel-good stories, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get involved. In November 2022, I was thrilled to begin writing for the paper, and what a journey it has been!
From highlighting East Surrey MP Claire Coutinho’s achievements to featuring the remarkable women of Tandridge on International Women’s Day, I revelled in the joy of sharing stories that mattered. Writing about budget-friendly activities during half term was just one of the many colourful chapters in this remarkable journey, for which I am eternally grateful to Rosalind and Louise.
I recently graduated from university with a degree in broadcast journalism, which had included a memorable year abroad studying in Spain. I was honoured to receive First Class Honours and the prize for Best Final Year Project in Media, Film, and TV. In July, I embarked on a new adventure as a junior reporter at First News, the UK’s largest national newspaper for children aged 8-14.
My time at First News has been nothing short of extraordinary. Writing for both the app and the newspaper, I have delved into various subjects, from the environment to entertainment to politics. I mainly focus on ‘Quick News’, a two-page spread presenting bite-sized yet relevant and easily understandable news pieces. Additionally, I explore the wonders of nature in the ‘Natural World’ section and indulge in the wackiest, hardest-to-believe stories on the ‘Crazy But True’ page. However, my contributions are not limited to these sections, as I often work on other pages and special reports.
One of the most enriching aspects of my role has been the opportunity to interview inspiring individuals. From Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, who shared the government’s dedication to opening more youth centres, to renowned children’s authors like Liz Pichon and Patrice Lawrence, I have been privileged to delve into their intriguing worlds. Most recently, I had an engaging conversation with TV presenter Radzi about his new book, uncovering fascinating facts that have left me in awe.
I have also enjoyed collaborating with UK zoos, including a recent partnership with Chester Zoo on World Rhino Day. Excitingly, my next big special report will be published in October, commemorating Disney’s 100th anniversary. The thrill of connecting with people from all corners of the globe is what makes my job truly enjoyable. One moment, I’m seeking permission from the Palace of Versailles media office in Paris for a picture, and the next, I’m conversing with a firefighter in Knoxville, Tennessee, for an international story. The ever-changing nature of my work is what continually fuels my passion.
I am forever indebted to The Tandridge Independent for expanding my horizons and providing me with opportunities to produce remarkable pieces of work, all while honing my skills. It is thanks to this incredible journey that I find myself where I am today, embarking on exciting adventures and continuing to make a meaningful impact through my writing.