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Harpers writers scoop WSET Diploma awards

Published:  23 July, 2008

Two members of the Harpers writing team have won scholarships at the WSET Awards of Excellence for the second year running.

Staff writer Rebecca Gibb and contributor Tina Gellie were two of 23 diploma students honoured for outstanding examination performances in 2006.

Rebecca won the Freixenet Limited Bursary and will visit Peneds and Rioja as a guest of the Cava house. At last year's award ceremony she won a study trip to Jerez as the Peter Hampson memorial scholar.

Tina's WSET prize was her second in a row. After winning a trip to the Scottish island of Islay with the Worshipful Company of Distillers in 2006, she is the 2007 Via Carmen scholar. The winery funds a week's study trip to Chile.

The highest-achieving diploma student receives The Vintners' Cup. Previous winners include Anthony Hanson MW, Jancis Robinson MW and Michael Schuster. In 2006, the prize went to a member of the on-trade for the first time in its 60-year history. This year, the Cup was won back by a member of the off-trade: Clare Dawson of Majestic, who said: I sat the unit 3 exam seven months pregnant. It heightened my sense of small but I couldn't reach the desk to write.'

Her prize is a visit to the wine- or spirit-producing region of her choice: I'm going to New Zealand next week with my husband and five-month-old daughter,' she said. She plans to return to Majestic after maternity leave.

WSET chief executive Ian Harris announced four new corporate patrons of the Trust at this year's awards. They are Match Consultants, Mentzendorff, Liberty Wines and the Symington family. The Symington family will also sponsor a Port scholarship at next year's awards.