WalesOnline (reporter Conor Gogarty)


Story one: My piece on Rhys Langford came about after I spotted an online crowdfunder he had started for six-year-old cancer patient Jacob Jones. I messaged Rhys' family through the fundraising page, and although Rhys was too unwell to speak to me, I was able to interview his parents. They revealed that Rhys, who was severely disabled and dying of cancer, had never met Jacob but had read an article I had recently written about him. Rhys had been so moved by the boy's plight that he decided to donate almost all his own savings on top of fundraising.

In writing up the extremely emotional interview with Rhys' parents, I wanted to do justice to their son's incredible selflessness. At the time our piece was published, Rhys' campaign had raised just over £5,000 for Jacob. The story helped bring thousands more donations and was then covered by international media, with £67,350 eventually raised. Rhys died within three weeks of the piece's publication. I am proud that I helped tell the world of his kindness. The story was read by 54,200 people for an average of five minutes, 42 seconds. Story two: I had heard from a contact that a funeral was planned for Agnes Coffey, a matriarch of Cardiff's traveller community. Previous traveller funerals had involved spectacular processions through the city, but I had no contact details to ask Agnes' family if we could cover the ceremony. In my free time I visited two traveller camps in Cardiff, and by knocking on doors I managed to get the family's address. After explaining I wanted to cover the funeral with the utmost sensitivity, Agnes' daughter Bridget invited us to attend. We were given unprecedented access not just to the funeral itself, but also to the wake the night before. We saw a stunning display of horses, cars, doves and ingenious flower tributes. And we told the powerful story of how Agnes steered her family through tragedy. The coverage has hugely strengthened our relationship with the traveller community, as well as being picked up by national media. Our piece was read 38,700 times for an average of four minutes, 13 seconds. Story three: Trawling magistrates' court results, I noticed that a Frankie Winters had been ordered to pay £2,500 in compensation for spraying graffiti in Abergavenny. Through an internet search, I then found his petition for a legal graffiti wall in the town, as well as some hugely impressive examples of his art. I messaged Frankie online and he agreed to talk. Frankie took responsibility for his actions and apologised, but the interview was about more than a court result. It went deeper, becoming a story of mental health struggles and frustrated artistic talent. The piece showed a humanity beyond the criminal conviction and helped raise awareness of the dissociative identity disorder community. It was read by 18,800 people for an average of four minutes, 34 seconds.