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Weekly launches card appeal for veteran who will turn 100 alone

A weekly newspaper has urged its readers to help a war veteran who will spend his 100th birthday alone to celebrate the date by flooding him with cards.

The Wigan Observer has launched a front page appeal to help Harry Melling, who will mark his centenary on 18 April while in self-isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Observer has followed Mr Melling, who is Britain’s oldest living submariner from the Second World War, since covering an attack and robbery on him in his own home in 2017.

It has now urged readers to send birthday cards to the care home where he lives, splashing on the appeal this morning.

Wigan 100

Editor Janet Wilson told HTFP: “We have befriended Harry ever since he was attacked and robbed in his own home several years ago and have watched with delight as he has been honoured by the Royal Navy, local veterans’ groups and Wigan Athletic and Wigan Warriors.

“When we realised he was going to have to spend his 100th birthday alone in his care home we decided we had to do something to let him know how much the town loves him.

“The journalists in the Wigan newsroom are striving to find as many upbeat stories as they can as we struggle through these dark days and we thought this was the perfect feelgood story for us all.”

Facebook has announced a new $3m fund to help small and mid-sized news organisations and journalists throught eh pandemic.

The European Journalism Centre, a non-profit organisation with a history working with publishers across the continent, will administer the grants independently of the social networking site.

The grants can be used for initiatives such as launching a dedicated COVID-19 newsletter, lifting a paywall, hiring more freelance journalists, or creating community groups, local-focused data reporting, online events — as well as basic continuation of work.

Adam Thomas, director at the European Journalism Centre, said: “All over Europe, local news organisations are facing a battle for survival.

“Deeply affected by the commercial impact of COVID-19, journalists are providing essential coverage with minimal resources. Without urgent support, local and community media will be unable to fight misinformation and inform citizens.

“The European Journalism COVID-19 Support Fund is designed to protect journalists who are working closely with their communities during this crisis.”

More information can be found here.

A parliamentary inquiry has been launched into the impact of COVID-19 on the culture sector.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee will consider both the immediate and long-term effects of coronavirus on all sectors that fall under its remit, which includes journalism.

It will consider both the immediate and long-term impact that coronavirus and the related social and financial measures are having on the wide range of industries and organisations under the committee’s remit.

The committee expects to hold a number of evidence sessions from late April onwards, and evidence can be submitted until Friday 1 May 2020.

You can read all our coronavirus-related stories here.