ITV News Anglia reporter Rebecca Haworth revealed how she broke lockdown’s big good news story – Captain Tom’s charity walk – at an RTS East event in November.
In April, Haworth was the first TV journalist to interview Captain Tom Moore, the Second World War veteran who walked around his garden to raise money for the NHS.
“We were right at the beginning of the lockdown and there was really grim news coming out about the virus,” she recalled. “At Anglia, we were always trying to find good news stories to lift the audience’s spirits – [Captain Tom] was just perfect.
“It’s really draining reporting on the pandemic because you’re living and breathing it, so it was really nice to have [a positive story] to report.”
Haworth’s piece went out and, “a few days later, it became huge and everyone picked up on it”.
Hannah Ingram-Moore, Captain Tom’s daughter, had sent a press release about her father’s fundraising walk to the local press, which ITV News Anglia picked up. “Rebecca clicked with my father and we thought, ‘What a lovely thing – if nothing else happens, this is still amazing.’”
In fact, Captain Tom went on to raise more than £32m for NHS charities and was knighted by the Queen.
“It wasn’t always easy, there were times when, undoubtedly, it felt a little bit overwhelming,” said Ingram-Moore. “There was never an intent to chase fame or glory. We realised that, when we spoke, people donated… if we stop talking, they wouldn’t donate.
“He became this global beacon of hope.”
Looking back, Haworth said: “It was such a privilege; it’s not often that a regional news story would get that big. To be there from the very beginning was wonderful. [Tom] is what you see on TV… Sometimes, when these stories get so big, people change, but in no way has that happened with Tom. He’s just the same lovely bloke I met that first day [in April].”
“Captain Tom: The inside story of a lockdown megastar” was hosted by ITV News Anglia presenter Becky Jago and held on 3 November.