Daniel Hordon

The Northern Echo

This is a young journalist who has made an instant impact in just a few short months in the role.

Daniel Hordon joined The Northern Echo in June after graduating from Sunderland University with Honours in journalism – and a string of awards during his time there.

Quickly showing promise, he landed the splash in his first week in the role as an MP from the region raised serious concerns over a toxic working culture at the passport office in Durham. What made this special was that Daniel had combed the daily agendas for questions on the House of Commons Schedule and had spotted the issue and contacted the MP, Mary Foy in advance – which led to a quick response and preparation leading to a terrific online story which really engaged readers and - his first page one. The kind of display any newsroom would be thrilled if experienced reporters showed. https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/20209063.durham-passport-office-mp-warns-toxic-work-culture/

Daniel has showed tenacity, commitment, knowledge and a desire which should be applauded and would be a credit to any newsroom.

Just a few weeks into the job, he then delivered an exclusive story which was an example of a regional young reporter at their best. Uncovering an issue affecting one reader which then subsequently becomes national news and an issue which affects the whole county. It then became a government focus after being raised in the Commons by an MP and is now the subject of an inquiry – all of which would never have come to the forefront without this young reporter’s instinct, tenacity and determination.

It began with a piece of old-fashioned journalism. Daniel picked up on a conversation about a County Durham family who had apparently discovered their dad was buried in the wrong grave. After further investigation, Daniel managed to contact this family who relayed an astonishing story that they had been visiting the wrong grave of their dad for 17 years.

This was only discovered after their mum died and her last wishes were to be buried in the same plot as her husband. When the plot was dug, someone else's coffin was inside. To add insult to injury, the church could not locate the father in the graveyard and all the while, this grieving family were unable to bury their mum. They were happy for Daniel to take up their fight to get action and answers.

The exclusive story drove huge digital audiences, was shared widely on social media channels and of course delivered a massive impact with the front page. https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/20292661.durham-family-spent-17-years-visiting-wrong-grave-due-blunder/z

The story then made national headlines – but for Daniel this was also about campaigning and fighting for readers and that is what he continued to do. He enlisted the help of Easington MP Grahame Morris who wrote to the Government, the Diocese of the Church of England, and brought the matter to the attention of the Bishop of Durham and Archbishop of Canterbury. https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/20592404.grahame-morris-mp-calls-action-durham-grave-blunder/

Further families came forward who had made the same shocking discovery by accident. https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/21882255.bishop-auckland-familys-upset-visiting-wrong-grave-43-years/

Again the stories made national headlines.

Daniel covered each step of the story, owning it – while repeated attempts were made to locate the grave of the Bell family’s dad, with a staggering eight graves eventually being needed to be dug up before they located him and they could finally grieve and lay their mum to rest.

What Daniel discovered was a huge blunder of record keeping by the church.

He continued to push for answers, and after raising the issue in the Commons, he managed to secure an apology for this family from the government’s Church Estates Commissioner. His efforts were recognised by Hold the Front Page and other media commentators and he also received a thank you, not only from the family, but from the MP for his exemplary work. https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/21226941.family-receive-commons-apology-wingate-grave-blunder/ https://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2022/news/trainee-reporter-wins-apology-from-mp-over-family-grave-mix-up/ Daniel was invited to attend the funeral and cover it when the family finally laid their mum to rest and were able to grieve properly for their dad. But the family, and we, believed this was a wider issue. After continued pushing, Daniel managed to secure a full inquiry by the Church of England into the issue, which starts on November 1 – which he intends to follow every step of the way.

Further investigations via an FOI uncovered that seven more families have had to endure shocking grave mix-ups burying their loved ones at council-owned cemeteries across the North East, https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/23022276.durham-darlington-teesside-loved-ones-buried-wrong-graves/

This investigation is now being rolled out across our sister titles in the Newsquest network where we believe we will uncover similar issues. This story has taken on huge significance, with a huge public interest element and undoubtedly could become a national scandal of failed record keeping leading to burial blunders, affecting possibly thousands of grieving families across the country. All uncovered from one conversation that this tenacious reporter refused to let go. A terrific example of quality, dedicated journalism. The Bell family involved in this scandal said: “You have been more than helpful, above and beyond. As a family we have always read The Northern Echo. When this nightmare happened we didn’t seem to get anywhere at all. We contacted yourselves and spoke to Daniel Hordon who was very understanding and sympathetic and showed empathy. He has worked with this case right from beginning liaising with us every step of the way and til this day he is still keeping us informed as likewise. We would like to thank you personally you have worked above and beyond.”

Not content with this work, Daniel has covered a broad range of stories – delivering quality journalism online, from exploring his hometown using Facebook Lives, engaging continuously and immersing himself in Twitter and other social media.

On the day of the Queen’s funeral, Daniel travelled to London, with a brief of capturing the mood of those travelling to the capital from the North East. His commitment was again exemplary. Starting his shift at 4am, he travelled to London by train – but showed great initiative in joining a family and following their entire day- as they experienced the momentous event. His coverage made for superb journalism, delivering Facebook Lives, feeding into a Live Blog and then delivering a great comment piece for online and in print as he made his journey back to the North East – eventually landing home at midnight. An incredible dedication in one so young and with such little experience in his role. https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/22313000.northern-echo-reporters-story-london-queens-funeral/ This a standout young journalist whose impact in such a short time in the industry has been nothing short of amazing. He has a huge bright future ahead – but the commitment, tenacity, determination, instinct and skill he has already shown in abundance are worthy of an award. Testimonal from Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, County Durham “The Northern Echo ‘grave blunder’ story remains a traumatic experience in the lives of my constituents, the Bell family. From initial contact and throughout the story, Daniel has acted with care and compassion in his reporting of a very sensitive and traumatic event few people will experience. The reporting and research by Daniel Hordon will have a lasting impact, as the Church of England consider changing their procedures. Daniel has been steadfast throughout the reporting of this story, ensuring the Bell family get justice. The reporting of this story was exceptional and shows an expertise and skills beyond the years of a trainee reporter.”