Judge's Comments 2017 - 2
Listen to the winning entry here

Last Wednesday evening, the Sunday Breakfast team, at the date of entry to the Jerusalem Awards, headed to London for the Awards ceremony. It was being held at BAFTA and was a pretty posh do.

The team was made up of Producer Clare Freeman, Programme Assistant Chris Sumner and me Mike Shaft.

Jerusalem Winners - 3

We had been nominated along with 5 other Teams/Programmes, in the Radio Strand Category and according to the programme for the evening, this was for:-
“Programmes which regularly occupy a specific time-slot and come under a single title. Entries in this category are a compilation of work”.

The Jerusalem Awards are, in my opinion, the most prestigious Awards in religious broadcasting.

After some weeks, the news arrived that we had been nominated in our Category. This meant that we would have to travel to London for the Awards Ceremony and we were in with a chance of winning one of these prestigious Awards.

Jerusalem Winners - 2

The only problem was that we would be up against some very strong competition. Radio 4’s Beyond Belief, Radio 2’s Pause For Thought and Radio London’s Inspirit, presented by the delightful Jumoke Fashola.

Having presented many Awards Ceremonies over the decades I was now on the other side.

The first thing that came to mind was Joey’s reaction in Friends when he failed to win an Award. I just hoped that whatever the outcome I would not let the side down.

We arrived in London in good time and made our way by tube to Piccadilly. A short walk down Piccadilly and we were at BAFTA.

Our entry had been compiled by the then producer Clare Freeman. She was overseeing the programme at that time as our regular producer Rebecca Kelly was on maternity leave…Again!

Over the duration of the programme, some 15 years, we have had some amazing guests and we have told some wonderful stories.

Clare had put together a fantastic collection of programme clips for our entry and sent off the package to enter the Jerusalem Awards for 2017. They were from some of my favourite interviews which fell between the relevant dates of broadcast.

Mike Shaft with Becky Kelly & the late Deborah Hollamby.

Mike Shaft with Becky Kelly & the late Deborah Hollamby.

It included the very sad story of Lizzie Lowe who attended a church in Didsbury. Lizzie who was just 14 years old, committed suicide because she was gay and she was of the opinion that God could not love her the way she was. I was interviewing the Priest at the church Rev Nick Bundock.

I started off by asking him where does a 14 year girl get the idea from that God could not love her because she was gay. And so began on of my most memorable interviews, a clip of which was included in our entry.

We also included other pieces such as my interview with Sister Rita Lee also known as BBC TV star Atilla the Nun.

To say this presentation evening just got better and better would be to put it mildly. As we entered the auditorium where the Awards would take place, we were handed the Programme for the evening. I immediately turned to the page for the Radio Strand Category.

As I read the judges’ comments about our entry I was almost in tears. Their comments are reprinted above.

The format of the evening was quite simple. The nominees in each category were displayed on the big screen and then the Final 3 were announced.

Clips were then played from each of the three entries before the Winner was announced.

I know that will sound fanciful but having read the Judges’ comments, had our evening ended there, I would have been delighted with the whole thing.


As we waited for the announcement of the finalists I whispered to Clare that even if we didn’t win, I hoped that we made the final three and that I hoped that they used the clip of the Lizzie interview.

The presenters then read the list of the 3 Finalists from the our Nominated entries.
In the Radio Strand they were:-
Beyond Belief from BBC Radio 4
Pause for Thought from BBC Radio 2
and Sunday Breakfast with Mike Shaft.

According to their website:-
“The Jerusalem Awards promotes Christian involvement in broadcasting. Some of our past winners are very well known to UK listeners while others are just starting out and speak to a small niche audience. Wherever they come from, whatever the style, our expert judges give every entry the same amount of care and attention.

The Awards started life in the mid-1990s as the Independent Local Radio awards, encouraging local radio stations to include religious programming on Good Friday. Twenty years later we have 11 categories across radio and digital platforms, and attract over 150 entries each year.”

We were delighted to have come this far and as we listened to the clips the tension built and built. Ours was the final clip played and as we heard the story of Lizzie there was a definite stillness in the room.

Then the announcement.

“And the winner is Sunday Breakfast with Mike Shaft.”

Honestly for a moment I couldn’t believe it. I paused for a second then we walked on to the stage to receive our Award.

We had won on the night but Sunday Breakfast had been developed over the last 15 years by a dedicated team of Producers and volunteers.

Party - Mike & Ally

In my next piece I will go into the history of the programme but for now I want to thank Ali Hutchison, Rebecca Kelly, now back from maternity leave, Jen Dale and Senior Producer Lawrence Mann. These have been the regular Producers of the programme over the years and the programme would not be where it is without them.

I must also thank our Editor Kate Squire for her continued support of the Sunday Breakfast programme.

For now I pray that Lizzie is in a place where she truly knows how much God loves her, because I truly believe that she is now with Him.


  Comments: 2

  1. Well done Mike and team. Much deserved.

  2. Excellent. Delighted for you all. and for Manchester. Long may it continue!

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