A weekly paper’s front page splash on high-value vomit has gone viral after its chief reporter sniffed out the story while having a haircut.
Greg Lambert, chief reporter at The Visitor in Morecambe, bagged one of the quirkiest front page leads so far this year with his tale of a man who found a “stinky rock” on the beach which turned out to be a rare piece of valuable whale vomit
Whale vomit – or ambergris – is used to make perfume and the smelly rock was potentially worth more than £100,000.
Editor Nicola Adam praised the scoop as “a great piece of local journalism picked up the old fashioned way.”
Greg had been having a trim when dog walker Ken Wilman wandered in, having seen the hairdresser advertised in the paper the week before, and asked if he knew how to get in touch with reporters.
As luck would have it, Greg was still in the barber’s chair and started interviewing Ken straight away.
“He started by asking me if I’d heard of it, so I knew it was unusual straight away – but the more we sat and talked about it the more I realised what a great story it was,” he said.
“I went back to tell the editor and we knew instinctively it was going to be a front page. Sometimes on deadline day we can still be looking for a splash but we had this for about a week.”
Since the piece was published, the story has been picked up by the Daily Telegraph, the Sun, the Mirror and broadcast on Sky News and the BBC, as well as a number of international news outlets.
It has been so widely reported now that the RNLI has issued a press release urging the hordes of potential treasure hunters to stay safe.
“They are worried there may be crowds of people heading down to hunt for whale vomit and find their fortune,” Greg added.
“It’s great seeing my story go so big – it’s a real buzz, and what you do it for really. It’s an amazing story – and hopefully life-changing for Ken.”
Nicola, editor of Lancaster and Morecambe newspapers, said she was delighted with how the story had taken off.
“This story is great piece of local journalism picked up the old fashioned way and sent global via new media,” she said.
“Greg picked up the story in the local hairdressers and now it is on websites in India, Thailand and Australia. Quite an achievement.
“I think we all live in hope of stumbling across a fortune and now it has been proved that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is in fact located in Morecambe!
“The beach has never been so busy though we would like to back up the RNLI’s warning about safety as the Morecambe Bay sands can be treacherous.”