ITV News Anglia reporter Rebecca Haworth revealed how she broke lockdown’s good news story – Captain Tom’s charity walk – at an RTS East event in early November.
In April, Haworth was the first TV journalist to interview Captain Tom Moore, the World War Two 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’re 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 report went out and “a few days later it went 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 Anglian News 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 £30 million for NHS charities and was knighted by the Queen. He even made an appearance on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories.
“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 won’t donate.
“He became this global beacon of hope.”
Looking back at the story, 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].”
The RTS East event, “Captain Tom: The inside story of a lockdown megastar”, was hosted by ITV News Anglia presenter Becky Jago and held on 3 November.