Rosemary Goodchild Award for sexual health journalism

The Rosemary Goodchild Award for excellence in journalism, recognises the very best articles on sexual and reproductive health.

The 2016 Award

The winner of the 2016 Rosemary Goodchild Award is Siobhan Fenton for her article The UK's abortion shame: Northern Ireland urged to stop prosecuting women under abortion ban, which was published in The Independent.

Aasma Day, who wrote Former headteacher speaks out on equality issues to resort students and reveals...'I didn't just survive, I succeeded' was highly commended by the judges.

The finalists

The finalists for this year's award were:

  • The UK's abortion shame: Northern Ireland urged to stop prosecuting women under abortion ban by Siobhan Fenton, The Independent.
  • People are putting balls of herbs into their vaginas to 'detox' their wombs by Ellen Scott, Metro.
  • 'This is what it's really like to live with HIV' by Theo Merz, The Telegraph.
  • The grown-up woman's guide to vibrators by Trisha Schofield, Verity Mann and Viv Groskop, Good Housekeeping.
  • Why can't I get sterilised in my 20s? By Holly Brockwell, The Guardian.
  • Sorry, it's a 'Fail' for out-of-date sex education classes by Fionola Meredith, The Belfast Telegraph.
  • Former headteacher speaks out on equality issues to resort students and reveals...'I didn't just survive, I succeeded' by Aasma Day, The Blackpool Gazette.

About the award

The award puts particular emphasis on articles relating to sexual health education, rights or support for women of all ages.

Subjects can include sex and relationships education, sexual health services, sexually transmitted infections, sexual orientation and gender identity, sex and the law, pregnancy, abortion, contraception, sexualisation or exploitation.

The award was established by the family of former FPA Press Officer, Rosemary Goodchild, who died of ovarian cancer in 1988.

The annual £500 prize money is awarded by the Goodchild family, who also assist in judging the award, in collaboration with FPA and a different guest judge each year.

Winning articles have discussed themes as varied as vasectomies for men and the best sex toys for women.

Who can enter?

The award is open to writers from all UK-based national and regional press, consumer magazines, trade press and professional journals.

Commissioned articles appearing as online content on UK websites will be accepted. Entries from blogs will also be accepted, but the journalist should select a single article for submission.

Articles should meet these criteria:

  • Must be factually correct.
  • Must be medically sound, if appropriate.
  • Should support the goals of charities working in these fields.
  • Must have been published between specified dates.

The 2015 winner

The winner of the Rosemary Goodchild Award in 2015 was Gillian Orr for Breaking The Taboo Of Abortion On TV And Film.

Gillian Orr with Dr Phil Hammond (left) and Marc Goodchild (right)The judges unanimously agreed that this was a very strong article, which would serve to both remind and inform people that while rights may have been won, these are still under threat of erosion, and there is no room for complacency.

Gillian was commended for the level of research, and for the fact she comes from an arts and entertainment background, rather than health or education abortion is more likely to be discussed, but clearly wanted to explore an issue that she feels passionate about.

She said:

"I had heard about a new American independent film that was coming out called Obvious Child which centred around a young woman electing to have an abortion. It was also a comedy.

"It was making waves in the US and I thought that it sounded interesting so went to an advanced screening; abortion is rarely depicted on screen and when it is it usually is shown as being a traumatic experience, and often going wrong. This just wasn’t my experience of abortion that I had seen with friends who had been through it.

"Without making light of a serious subject, I felt that this was a real breakthrough in dealing with abortion on screen. I thought Obvious Child was very brave and decided to look at other storylines in TV and film to see how they had dealt with it.

"The results were rather shocking, I thought. The subject tends to be shied away from or shown as distressing, even in the UK. When abortion charities claim that having realistic depictions of the procedure on screen can help women deal with it, I wanted to know why there weren’t more.

"I spoke to many health professionals, network execs and screenwriters for the piece. There was a huge response online with other women asking why abortion is so demonised on screen and I was invited to speak on a panel with the director and star of Obvious Child when it had its UK premiere to discuss its refreshing portrayal of abortion.

"It was an arts piece but one that sought answers about the portrayal of women’s experience."

Gillian was presented with her award by Rosemary's son, Marc Goodchild, at the UK Sexual Health Awards on 6 March.

Two other finalists were highly commended:

The 2015 finalists

The complete list of finalists was:

  • The Asexuals by Alix O'Neill, Marie Claire
  • The Primary Headteacher Attacked For Trying To Tackle Homophobia by Rachel Williams, Education Guardian
  • Ask An Adult: Is There A Medical Reason We Actually Need Chocolate When We’ve Got PMS? by Sophie Wilkinson, The Debrief
  • Men And Boys Get Raped Too by Theo Merz, Daily Telegraph
  • To Breed Or Not To Breed? One Woman’s Ambivalence About Having Children by Lindsay Frankel, Daily Telegraph
  • Breaking The Taboo Of Abortion On TV And Film by Gillian Orr, The Independent
  • Women Forced To Run Gauntlet Of Abortion Zealots by Fionola Meredith, Belfast Telegraph
  • Let’s Talk About Sex: Teachers Back Call For Sex Education To Be Compulsory by Jane Martinson, Education Guardian