MIDLAND Angler editor Gareth Purnell said he was ‘pleased as punch’ after hearing his title had been voted Angling Magazine of the Year by the Angling Writers’ Association.
A re-launch of the magazine that was the official publication of the Birmingham Anglers Association in the 1950s, 1950s and 1960s, the all-new version hit the market late last summer, after former Improve Your Coarse Fishing editor Gareth teamed up with DHP following the closure of the angling times web site.
Creating a new title is always exciting because you start with a blank sheet of paper, said Gareth after picking up the accolade at the awards ceremony in Killaloe on the banks of Lough Derg in County Clare, Ireland.
I’m really proud of the magazine we’ve created. I think we’ve really captured the mood of anglers in the region and I believe the title really has what I call ‘soul’.
But it’s what the readers think that counts, and they seem to love Midland Angler.
The magazine has a wide distribution right across the Central TV area and sales have been growing strongly this year.
Launching a regional into an already crowded market was a gamble and I take my hat off to David Hall for taking it, he said.
However, anglers don’t travel much more than 50 miles to fish and we are able to make our editorial very relevant to our readers.  
We set ourselves a sales target when we launched and we have already topped that mark, so the gamble has paid off, he added.
All the feedback we’ve been getting from readers has been very positive, and this award is the icing on the cake.
Angling Writer’s Association head Keith Elliott, angling columnist for The Independent newspaper, said: The awards themselves are independently voted for by magazine industry experts. Midland Angler is a really super magazine and Gareth should be very proud it.
Midland Angler also received an award in the AWA’s News Story of the Year category for its exclusive coverage of the launch of the Severn Valley Anglers society and its work with the Environment Agency to find out what is going wrong with the fishing on the river.
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What the judges said
This magazine stands out for its lively mix of professional journalism and angling enthusiasm. It is to be commended in the latter area for its positive approach to fishing and young people – the only way to keep the sport alive. Midland Angler also offers readers a lively and fun mix of fishing news and features. Its use of large colour pictures should be noted. The magazine’s guide to where to fish in the Midlands as well as its match reports make it an essential read for those who cast their lines in the heart of England. In just eight months, editor Gareth Purnell has established (or should that be re-established) Midland Angler as a major player in angling journalism.

Angling Writer’s Association Awards 2001/2002

Angling Magazine of the Year
Winner: Midland Angler

Angling Writer of the Year
Winner Keith Elliott, The Independent
Runner-up: David Profumo
Highly commended: Gareth Purnell, Midland Angler

Humorous Writer of the Year
Winner: Keith Elliott, The Independent
Runner-up: Chris Sandford

Welsh Writer of the Year
Winner: Terry Thomas

Bernard Venables Award (to the writer who most encompasses the values and principles enshrined by the AWA’s former president, the late Bernard Venables).
Winner: Roger Barnes
Runner up: Chris Ogborne
Highly commended: Graham Mole

Angling News Story of the Year
Winner: Steve Partner, deputy news editor of Angling Times, for his coverage of an 11-year -old breaking the British perch record.
Runner up: Gareth Purnell, editor of Midland Angler, for his exclusive on the Severn Valley Anglers’ emergency alliance with the Environment Agency in trying to establish what is going on with the  coarse fishing on the Midlands river.

Angling Book of the Year
Winner: John Bailey’s ‘Trout at Ten Thousand Feet’
Runner-up: Fred Buller’s ‘The Angling Treatise and its Mysteries’

Sea Angling Writer of the Year
Winner: Bob Moss
Runner-up: Terry Thomas
Highly commended: Tom O’Reilly

New Writer of the Year
Runner-up: Doug Lock
Winner: Tom O’Reilly

Local Newspaper Writer of the Year
Winner: Bob Roberts
Runner-up: Patrick Arnold
Highly commended: Dave Harper

Irish Writer of the Year
Winner: Nick Parry, Irish Sun
Runner-up: Bob Moss