Dealing with tragedy every day is an occupational hazard for any newspaper reporter.
But Bath Chronicle journalist Judy Boyd wanted her own private grief to be treated the same way as any member of the public when a fire swept through her home, claiming the life of her 93-year-old mother.
After taking a call from a neighbour telling her the house was on fire – with her mother trapped inside – the head of community news rushed to the scene.
Editor David Gledhill drove Judy the mile-and-a-half home, trying to reassure her that the fire brigade would have the blaze under control.
By the time they arrived three fire engines and an ambulance were at the scene and frantic efforts had been made to rescue the elderly lady.
But despite the tragedy unfolding before her, Judy insisted that the paper continue to treat the incident in the same way that it would any other, and a photographer and reporter were dispatched to the scene.
Sadly, nothing could be done to save her mother, and she was later pronounced dead in hospital.
And while two reporters wrote the next day’s front page lead, other staff visited Judy at a neighbour’s home to try and comfort her.
Editor David used his weekly first person column two days after the blaze to write about the tragedy.
He concluded: “We have lived the reality that lies behind our own front pages. And it hurt like hell.”
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