This year has been a phenomenally successful one for my business with the highlight most definitely jointly winning the Sole Trader of the Year Award at Rossendale Business Awards in November.
I am known for words, but I also take the odd photograph including two that have appeared on the BBC weather broadcasts including this one taken when the snow unexpectedly arrived in Weir in April.
This year I have retained all five of my contracted clients. Both Fearns Community Sports College and Haslingden High School have employed me since 2009 and Whitworth Community High School since 2015. Charity Veterans In Communities has employed me since its inception in 2012, to report news and produce monthly newsletters, and Rossendale's largest employer J & J Ormerod contracted me to work for them in January 2015, and to date I have produced numerous press stories and eight newsy JJO Journals.
Since April 2016, I have worked for 25 ad hoc clients, 14 were existing clients and I have worked for several over many years. In 2014 I began helping M3 Project to raise its profile and since then I have produced 10 newsletters to encourage support for the charity. A further 11 customers were new clients and I hope to be able to assist them again in the future. I have written more than 200 press articles, have had 272 printed in various media and online, have arranged for several to be interviewed on the radio and my stories followed up by TV news.
In January I will be starting two newspaper clubs at different schools to produce termly newspapers. I am delighted to be returning to Northern Primary School, where my School News programme has its roots, and I will also be at Britannia Primary School.
I have taken on a regular contract to produce an end of half-term paper in a day six times a year at Coal Clough Primary School working with the students to report the half-term's news.
The relaunch of my book The Sophie Lancaster Story has been a huge success with 800 copies being sold in a single month.
Rossendale Business Awards and now the Hyndburn Business Awards both employ me to produce a series of articles to promote the businesses, the sponsors, the awards and the presentation.
From incredibly humble beginnings in 2009 when I opted for redundancy and left my full time job with just two contracts to my name, but an ambition to succeed, I have come a long way. Thank you everyone who has employed me over the years. Here's to 2017.
My journey through Graves Disease continues as sadly I have not succeeded in conquering the dreaded illness yet.
I was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid gland in February and have been making regular trips to the consultant and doctor's surgery for blood tests ever since. There are two hormones involved and one was at three times the level it should be while the other was twice the normal level.
At that stage the consultant reckoned I had been battling this condition for 8 months unbeknown to me. I lost nearly 2 stones in weight and developed a tremor that affected my everyday life from cooking and eating food to writing and typing, not good for a journalist.
I have been taking medication to try to control the levels, but the disease is notoriously difficult resolve. I have blogged my experiences so that they might just be able to help someone else who is similarly struggling.
To read my latest step on this long road click on the icon or read more below. Photograph Liz Henson Photography
I knew I had been shortlisted but nevertheless it still comes as a shock to be announced as the winner.
Indeed I shared the honours with my friend Liz Hall from Liz Henson Photography, but that seemed to make a lot of sense. We do a lot of collaborative work as is evident on both our websites and social media.
As the sponsor was explaining how hard it is to be a sole trader having to take care of the day-to-day work, marketing, promotion and bookkeeping, I whispered to Liz, 'I think we should share this.'
Then would you believe it we did! Two matching trophies and certificates were handed out. Afterwards the judges told us they had checked both our digital presence and found that we both mentioned each other on our business pages so they couldn't separate us.
As ever I was also reporting on the awards and the presentation story was soon live on the Rossendale Free Press site and in the paper and the sole trader story made the Lancashire Telegraph business pages compiled by the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce. Another story was written for Fearns Community Sports College and that story also made the Lancashire Telegraph. Thank you Paul Swift Photography.
Artist Chris Worswick and her husband Paul decided five years ago to build their own home and now, aged 70 and 71 they are settling in nicely.
This rather unusual story was commissioned by Lancashire Life and provided another opportunity for me to work with Liz Henson Photography.
The story is in the magazine's November edition.
The house is stunning and very 'tardis-like' being definitely much bigger on the inside especially as it has a hidden below ground floor only visible from the rear.
This was a lovely story and allowed me use a different style of writing as my words walked the reader through the house. I even get a byline.
Catherine Smyth Media is a one-stop shop for Press and PR with an added specialism - creating school newspapers
WINNER of Rossendale Business Awards Sole Trader 2016
I write news stories and take photographs for businesses, organisations and individuals with proven results. I have had contracts with two Rossendale high schools since 2009, gained a third in 2015, worked for local charity REAL for more than three years and since 2012 have worked for Rossendale-based charity Veterans In Communities. I am on contract with JJO kitchen, bedroom and bathroom manufacturerer in Bacup and I also work for a number of businesses as and when they require. I produce newsletters as well as news stories for the written press, online media, TV and radio.
Why not let me run a Paper In A Day project at your school?
You can choose either a Paper in a Week project with the end product of a 16-page full colour newspaper written by the schools own pupils promoting literacy and inclusion.Alternatively you can select the Paper in a Day project which produces a 4-page paper and links in with the national curriculum journalistic writing taught in Year 6.
Check out the School News section to see examples of a paper in a day projects. Click here to read testimonials from teachers and pupils.
I also offer an after-school club newspaper service to produce a termly or half-termly paper written by primary school pupils.
I produce brochures and school prospectuses, which can be printed in school saving on costs or externally, if preferred.
To see an example click on the above photograph.
I work as a freelance journalist and photographer.
I have been a journalist since 1988 working on local evening and weekly papers. My last role was as news editor so I have organisational, subbing and page laying experience.
I was a school governor for 10 years, firstly at nursery and then at my sons' primary school. While a governor, I developed a successful school newspaper at my sons' school and now share that experience with other schools through a one-week, one-day or termly or half-termly enrichment programmes.
Check out my School News page for more details and testimonials for feedback.
I have also written a book on the murder of Sophie Lancaster - Weirdo Mosher Freak, which can be bought direct from me. Just follow the link to ebay. To find out more click on my Sophie Lancaster Book page. The book has now been rebranded The Sophie Lancaster Story and is available on Amazon. Picture Liz Henson Photography.
In a voluntary capacity, I am a Cub leader and chairman of the local carnival committee.