THIS week we lost one of our own. Reporter Rachel Nurse died at the weekend of ovarian cancer, at the age of 23.
Rachel joined Newsquest in February as part of the launch team for The National, Wales, before moving on to the South Wales Argus, Penarth Times and Barry & District News to continue her training.
She was, quite simply, a ray of sunshine who brought joy to the newsroom. She will be badly missed by her colleagues and all who knew her.
A career should be measured in achievements, not time, and Rachel’s was pretty amazing.
She helped launch a new national newspaper and website – an opportunity very few have in even the most illustrious of careers. She questioned ministers at televised media briefings, met celebrities – her interview with Mike Peters of The Alarm is especially moving now – and covered local stories that mattered to communities. She’s even got a mention on Wikipedia and got her ‘blue tick’ as a verified authority on Twitter.
Rachel went to school at Whitchurch High, Cardiff, where she often volunteered at the breakfast club and helped other pupils with the reading.
She went on to Cardiff University to study English literature and then achieved an MA in international journalism, while also dealing with cancer. Ever tenacious, she gained experience and had articles published across a range of media including the Argus, Wales Online and Al Jazeera.
Cancer would not stop Rachel achieving her dream to be a professional journalist. Before applying for the job with Newsquest, she called me and said ‘I have cancer, is it worth me applying for the job?’. I’m very pleased I said yes.
After moving to work on the Argus, Rachel was given the patch of Blaenau Gwent, and she jumped straight in, talking to people and setting up a new local Facebook group. She wrote about important local issues from bank closures to concerns over plans to close a train station car park to the public (plans which were quickly ditched following the outcry resulting in part from her story). Rachel’s story about how Festival Park had become a ‘ghost town’ shopping centre with only one store remaining open has been viewed more than 110,000 times.
Rachel was a bundle of energy in the newsroom, always first to volunteer or contribute an idea or five. She loved animals and never missed chance to write about The Dogs Trust in Cardiff. She cared for her colleagues and took an interest in their wellbeing.
After surgery over the summer, she looked forward to life after cancer. She moved to Newport and embraced life and her job with the Argus as much as possible, telling her mum “today Newport, tomorrow New York”.
But cancer returned in September and, sadly, Rachel died on Saturday, October 16, with her family around her at home near Cardiff. She is survived her mum and dad Maggs and Terry Nurse.
Her parents pay tribute to their daughter here.
Before she died, Rachel told her mum to pass on that ‘we’d better find someone really good to replace her’. Rachel can’t be replaced, but we’ll do our best to honour her memory.