Hannah Hiles


Being a Sentinel / StokeOnTrentLive journalist is a huge honour and a privilege, and I take it seriously. This is my second stint working for the Sentinel - my first was back in 2001 to 2005 - and I was overjoyed to re-join my hometown newspaper last year after moving back to the area.

As Life Writer I cover a wide range of subjects from lighter topics like what's on, property and first person pieces through to longer profiles or emotional interviews which need a gentle and compassionate touch. For my entry I have tried to show some of the breadth of my coverage. My first submission is a heart-breaking interview with Claire Reynolds, whose six-year-old daughter Sharlotte was killed in a car crash by a driver who was drunk, on drugs and on his phone. It was the first time that Claire had opened up about the loss of her daughter in an interview. Her courageous vulnerability led to a hard-hitting piece which went online the evening of the sentencing, which saw the driver jailed for just over six years. The combination of the shock of the short sentence and the powerful punch of this interview saw thousands sign a petition for the jail term to be reviewed, with many readers commenting that the piece had reduced them to tears. My second submission is an interview with Danielle Hughes, who spoke about her experiences as a transwoman. She talked candidly about her struggles growing up when she didn't know what being trans was - she just knew that she was a girl. Doing the interview was an 'overwhelmingly amazing' experience for Danielle. In support of this submission, she said: "I had always been hesitant about sharing my story in the media but it was important to me because of the possibility of helping others. If it wasn't for Hannah my story would probably never have been told - but I trusted her and she more than did my story justice. "The reaction in the weeks following was overwhelmingly amazing. I had one message from a teacher at a local school who told me that a student had come out to them off the back of the article - that is why it was worth doing. Since the article I have become so much more open and visible in the local community. I want to be the visibility I never had growing up and the article had a massive part to play in that." My third submission is a lighter first-person piece about a visit to an alpaca farm. I was able to give people a taste of an experience that they might never have had and wrote it in a playful style that was still packed full of information. Owner Stuart Alcock emailed me the day after the story went live, saying: "Thank you, Hannah, I really appreciated your visit and your beautiful article."