My favourite stories: May to July
July 8, 2013, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Journalism

Here are my favourite stories I have covered from May until now:

1) I had the privilege of going to visit this couple on their special day. Probably one of the oldest bride and groom ever to get married!

“Special day of memories” as 92-year-old weds his terminally ill 83-year-old sweetheart

2) This story affects everyone in Bracknell – make sure you check the public notices trainee reporters!

Drivers may face 12 weeks of roadwork misery as 25 roads close for repairs

3) The Bandstand being bulldozed has provoked lots of reaction from our readers and is a big one in terms of the ongoing regeneration stories.

Iconic’ bandstand will be bulldozed for regeneration

4) Debbie is a really brave lady and after this story, Boy George has tweeted me and will be meeting Debbie.

Terminally ill mum desperate to fulfil dying wish to meet Boy George

5) One of our most popular stories which became a bit of a worldwide sensation and was copied on news sites all over the world!!

Bracknell UFO photo “one of the best”, says expert

Did you spot Bracknell UFO? Lights in the sky over Harmans Water

6) A nice feelgood story where a man who performed in the Olympic opening ceremony proposed to his Gamesmaker girlfriend.

Olympic proposal at Buckingham Palace garden party

6) Had to be quick to get a photo of the graffiti and then try and find Muslims to speak to.

Muslim man “proud” to live in Bracknell despite anti-Islam graffiti appearing in underpass

7) An important story for my Crowthorne patch.

End of the line for Crowthorne’s only toy shop

8) A successful FOI request.

Posties attacked by dogs 48 times in the last year


Rave patrol news feature sparks fashion advice
February 4, 2013, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Journalism

Police hunt for illegal raves

Here is a video and report I did when I shadowed police on a rave patrol. Thankfully Hugh, our web editor, edited out my Blair Witch-esque close-up filming.

This report has triggered some fashion advice from one of our kindly commenters (they also love to slam food reviews which mention burgers).

Thankfully I am far more concerned about keeping warm and alive when it is snowing than worry about whether my high-vis jacket goes with my ‘lavender hat’ and ‘eau-de-nil scarf. Thanks though :).


Ten months as a trainee reporter
February 4, 2013, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Journalism

I can’t believe it has been more than a year since I finished my NCTJ and went straight into work experience at the Kentish Gazette, then three other papers before landing a job in Reading.

My first ten months on the Bracknell Forest Standard have been fast-paced, challenging and I have learnt loads – here are some stories I have written lately.

This story I found through my work Facebook account. I saw a post from a concerned mum and arranged to do a story about sex toys in Boots, which then got syndicated to the Mail Online. They used my article pretty much word for word and didn’t give me a byline, but I will take it as a compliment.

Another story found through Facebook – I have an account Becky Barnes Bracknell Standard so people know they can contact me, or who I am if I contact them.

Rescue dog reunited with owner – After the Dawn the raven escaped during a Metallica video shoot story arose from following up a simple tweet, I have always followed up tweets and this story was a follow up from a series of tweets about a missing dog.

This story is about hoax calls and includes a spotty bottom as a reason to call an ambulance.

Tributes to popular hot air balloon pilot who took his own life – after an inquest I did a bit of research and managed to get a tribute and pictures from friends, which always adds colour and humanity rather than just detailing the circumstances of someone’s death.

Tomorrow I am interviewing Paloma Faith for the Reading Post and this week I have written a lead for the Reading Post, which I have also sent to the Daily Mirror, as we are all the same company.

Will post it when it is up on Get Reading, and hopefully the Mirror Online!


A selection of stories for the Bracknell Standard and Reading Post
November 18, 2012, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Interviews, Journalism

Here’s a snapshot of some of the stories I have written in the last couple of months – for more just click on my name on each story.

Gold medallist Beth Tweddle pays tribute to Pinewood coach Fergus Beedham

Friends of Sir Jimmy Savile’s shock at abuse allegations

‘Reclusive’ man could have taken overdose

Mum with 24 pets calls for tougher laws after firework near miss

Stepfather jailed for breaking baby’s legs

Crowthorne Women’s Institute calls for hearing loop because members cannot hear meetings

Bracknell burglars who ransacked vulnerable man’s home jailed

Drug addict kept stun gun for ‘protection’

Family of killed motorcyclist back campaign for tougher sentences for death drivers

Family of teen “living on borrowed time” appeal for donations to take him to Disneyland

Oh and here’s a review of a lovely tea barge!

Vagina Monologues review for the Reading Post
October 9, 2012, 7:54 pm
Filed under: Journalism | Tags: , , , ,

I have always blogged about the great opportunity to do features across the three papers we have based in Reading and last week I reviewed The Vagina Monologues for The Reading Post. It was the first time I have had to be rude about someone but unfortunately Chelsee Healey was awful and I had to be honest!

The original review can be viewed here.

The Vagina Monologues
The Hexagon, Reading
Monday, October 1, 8pm

Ladies if you fancy a night out minus men then it can almost be guaranteed at a performance of The Vagina Monologues (bar the one per cent who get dragged along).

I doubt The Hexagon has ever had so many women in one go!

The thing I love about this text is that each actress can make it her own in each performance – for anyone who doesn’t know, the play is a collection of monologues inspired by interviews with women about their you-know-what.

And although the title may sound crass it is quite the opposite – yes there are lots of laughs as every possible term for the female anatomy is thrown around but the play also confronts serious issues like genital mutilation and rape.

The set up is always the same – three famous women sitting on stools and chatting to an audience who can easily identify with the subject matter.

But since the play made its debut in 1996 it is constantly evolving to keep it current and this production was no exception.

For this UK tour, running until October 27, the line up is Corrie’s Janice Battersby aka Vicky Entwistle, 2point4 Children’s Clare Buckfield and Waterloo Road’s Chelsee Healey.

Vicky Entwistle and Clare Buckfield stole the show and carried the other actress, who looked like she had arrived on stage by accident.

Vicky was a far cry from the disliked gobby factory worker on Corrie and was a warm likeable and versatile performer who had the audience in stitches with her multitude of characters and energy.

Clare took on the two most challenging monologues – My Angry Vagina and My Vagina Was My Village. These tackle everything from tampons to rape camps and her performance was stunning. The Dancing on Ice star also gave When Harry met Sally’s Meg Ryan a run for her money with a scene reminiscent of the well-known cafe moment from the movie. And she reminded the audience she gets to do that six times a week.

Chelsee Healey looked lost and awkward on stage. Her accents were poor, she had her head down reading off a script and she stumbled over her lines. She also looked as if she found saying the word vagina awkward. Maybe stick to the dancing Chelsee.

Despite this puzzling choice of actress, the other two carried the performance and had the majority of lines.

Reading Hexagon was the perfect venue for this show and as hoards of women left the theatre there was a definite vibe of the sisterhood with ripples of feminism unleashed into the town.

I also had a second pop at the 60 second news last Thursday here. It goes up on YouTube too and someone commented ‘bad hair day?’ which made me laugh…then again someone else tweeted I had nice hair, so everyone is entitled to their own opinion!

Looking forward to the Reading Comedy Festival – I have interviewed four comedians/acts so need to get those written up soon 🙂

Six months in as a trainee reporter

Monday will mark six months since I started as a trainee reporter on the Bracknell Forest Standard and I still love it. This week has been a particularly good week..the week before was hard as I had ten days off and felt massively behind when I got back. But this week things are back on track, and even though the nights are darker and colder, everything is very positive.

This week I joined the Reading Post’s 60 second news rota which means now and then I will be writing and reading out the lunchtime headlines online. Here’s what my first attempt looked like (well it took four takes actually!)

Also, we had some pretty good news for Bracknell this week. Regeneration of the town centre has been a hot topic for way longer than my six months and on Wednesday top cinema chain Cineworld signed on the dotted line and agreed a 25-year lease as part of a shopping complex in the town. That story can be found here.

My favourite human interest story this week has to be one about a community cafe facing an 1,000% rent increase, and being given two weeks notice. I popped down to Pinewood Cafe for the morning on Monday and chatted with Pauline and Andy about how they will have to close if they are forced to pay this. They are lovely, welcoming people and make a superb cup of tea. Read about it here.

After I’d spent some time at Pinewood, I whizzed over to Waitrose, Bracknell, where they have an amazing and innovative new energy system, where the whole store is powered just by burning locally sourced woodchips. I had a tour and met some very clever people who designed it all. The video I took while I was there will be on getbracknell next week.

I do love getting out and about and also for this week’s paper went to the opening of Victim Support a week ago to see Princess Anne open their new Bracknell office. She is incredibly down-to-earth and made time to speak to every person there. Here’s a video I filmed while I was there. All I can say is, thank goodness for editing as my voice always sounds silly when I interview people.

Something today reminded me how as a reporter you should follow every lead no matter how small…a simple car crash turned out to be a pregnant bride-to-be and her fiance on the way to their wedding today. Thankfully through the wonder of Twitter I know they are OK and I hope we can get a photo of them getting married tomorrow, in next week’s paper.

In other news, my role as news editor for ThisFestivalFeeling.com is winding down a bit and I will be moving to a staff writer position next festival season. Instead, I am taking on the role of music editor for our sister site kettlemag.com. I am looking forward to plenty of gig and album reviews and trying to think of creative things to write about.

Oh and one more thing I spotted this AMAZING opportunity for any student wanting to break into magazine journalism. You can basically get printed in LOADED magazine while you study!

Have a lovely weekend, I am working so hopefully something interesting will happen. 🙂

Two months in as a trainee reporter
June 11, 2012, 8:00 pm
Filed under: Journalism | Tags: , , ,

There was a time when I posted every day on my blog but I realise two months has passed since I posted last. Since I have entered the whirlwind world of reporting and spent spare evenings chasing fire engines and sitting through long council meetings, the blog has somewhat taken a backseat.

But I stumbled across some more childhood letters which I know people enjoy so watch out for more of those coming up soon.

My first two months have been brilliant – I love my job and I love being a reporter. No day is the same and the job entails learning new things every day.

Here are some snippets of what I have been up to since I started.

This is a story that started with a tweet..no bird pun intended.


It’s great how just one call following up a simple tweet can unveil a really interesting story that results in a happy ending: http://www.getbracknell.co.uk/news/s/2112768_raven_found_after_escaping_during_metallica_video_shoot

I am going to include this one because my cousin, Catherine Barnes, who is a journalist who inspired me to take on this line of work, loves the top line.


Here’s the coverage of my first time a body has been found in suspicious circumstances, there’s a few more articles on Get Bracknell if you search on the site:


And a court case that proved pretty interesting:


This was quite an intriguing find in some council minutes


as was this: http://www.getbracknell.co.uk/news/s/2114504_50000_bid_for_just_400_council_homes

And I have done a couple of features/videos too:




Oh and a Lenny Henry interview:


Ok that’s probably enough for now!