As a 21 year old reporter working for a London press agency, I will never forget the time when in March 1986 and working on the evening shift, myself and the news editor got a call from the Police to say they were investigating a horrific rape.
I was the first journalist on the scene – a beautiful old vicarage in Ealing – and the very last place you could imagine anything terrible happening.
But as the night unfolded, it became clear something very terrible indeed had happened.
In fact, a gang of robbers had broken into the vicarage and disturbed the occupants – they were Jill Saward, her father, the Vicar of Ealing and her boyfriend David Kerr, who at the time were watching television.
Maybe it was because I was of a similar age to Jill Saward, but I couldn’t get what had happened out of my mind. But then it was particularly shocking.
For while she was brutally raped, David and her father were tied up and beaten. They both received fractured skulls.
Needless to say The Ealing Vicarage Rape Attack received huge publicity and the sheer horror of it dominated the front pages of every national newspaper. It was one of the biggest and worse stories I worked on.
The case received more publicity when the judge gave the burglars longer sentences for breaking into the vicarage than the rape, causing huge controversy. Unsurprisingly that same judge was later to publicly apologise for the ‘one great blemish’ on his career.
Incredibly, Jill, now a mum, waived her anonymity and she and her father forgave the gang. She also showed enormous strength when she wrote a book, ‘Rape, My Story’. It was the first time a rape victim had really told how it was and to this day she is still involved in supporting victims of rape and sexual assault.
However, of course the other – less public victim – was David. But, ironically, and not knowing I had previously covered his story, he recently contacted me through my website Featureworld. He tells me he has since struggled with the terrible memories of that night. After being left for dead by his attackers, the rape forced the break up of his relationship with Jill and he was left with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a brain injury. After several suicide attempts he eventually found solace in a local self help depression group.
Now, and with the help of a new partner, he has found solace in publishing his own books – The Journeyman’s Voyage Into Wisdom and My Visit to Planet Madness, will be available from Chipmunkapublishing. and tell David’s own inspiring story of how, against all the odds, he has now found happiness.
It is amazing how small the world is and I am so glad David has found peace at last.
Read More: Wikipedia
Have you written a book about something extraordinary that’s happened to you? If you have an inspiring story to sell, contact me here: Story To Sell
Chelsea Harmsworth’s real life story about how her baby girl survived an abortion, is published in REVEAL mag this week.
Chelsea’s story looks amazing spread over two pages of glossy magazine Reveal this week and the photos look stunning. Regular sell your story UK blog readers might recall university student Chelsea’s story was recently printed over a double page in the Sunday People newspaper. She is the young mum who when she fell pregnant by accident, decided to have a termination. However, the operation didn’t work and unbeknown to Chelsea, left her still pregnant. It was only three months later when she still felt pregnant that she went to see her GP and discovered she was almost six months.
Doctors offered Chelsea a further abortion but she was so close to the 24 week cut-off point and had seen her baby moving on the scan, that she couldn’t go through with it. Sadly, however, daughter Keira was born with deformities to her hands. And Chelsea’s relationship with Keira’s dad has since ended.
Despite this she is a happy little girl and Chelsea, who manages to hold down a job and study for a psychology degree would not be without her.
Chelsea says: “Going into Reveal mag was tremendous fun. Keira and I had a proper photoshoot with make-up and clothes. The crew made us feel like superstars!”
I have since managed to gain Chelsea yet another magazine deal – this will be a further double page spread for Chelsea.
You put ‘sell my story’ into Google and you come up with a dazzling array of websites offering to sell your story for you.
No doubt that’s how you found this website– Sell your Story UK (the official blog for Featureworld) after all, you must have put some search term like this into Google to have found this page!
The question is, with so much choice, how do you choose who is really the best media agent, journalist or writer to sell your story through?
It’s an important decision. Get it right and not only will you earn money for your real life story but you will gain good publicity in a national newspaper or women’s magazine you are happy with. But get it wrong and you could regret selling your story (or you might not ‘sell’ it as you might not be paid…)
The truth is, despite all the information available on the internet about selling a story to the press, some people still steam ahead without taking proper advice. While I do believe the vast majority of journalists do work with integrity, occasionally I will receive an email from an interviewee who’s fallen victim to an unscrupulous press agency or reporter – they have done a story, it was printed and yet when they try to contact the person who ‘sold’ it and who offered them money, they cannot be contacted. Worse, their story is sold worldwide without their consent…
With this in mind, I have recently written a more in depth general piece to help people avoid scams, and guide interviewees through the maze of selling their story.
Read it here.
And if you are not sure if your real life story is saleable to a magazine or newspaper, look at my checklist: What’s your real life story?
Meanwhile, I am always available for advice – and am committed to selling your story safely. Contact me here: Sell my Story
ALISON – ‘Selling stories to the press for You…’
Although it IS hard work selling real life stories, writing them and ensuring interviewees are completely happy, I am delighted to say that my website seems to be doing something right as it never fails to attract a steady stream of enquiries from some of the loveliest and most genuine people. As regular sell your story blog readers will have seen I have had a great run of particularly emotional stories sold to magazines and newspapers recently – it truly has been a pleasure to see some of these interviewee’s very personal stories in print. And to sell them on again for interviewees – which means they are gaining more publicity (and more money!)
Meanwhile, I am always thinking of ways to improve the sell my story service – to make it more transparent and less worrying to those people who do worry about selling a story to the press (however much you reassure them!) So as well as some general updates to the Featureworld website, there is a brand new page – the aptly titled How to sell your story – which gives you a run down of what you might expect from the moment you contact me to when your story is finally printed. You can also read more about me (if you want to…!) and perhaps more importantly, on this page read what other people say about getting me to sell your story.
Want to sell your story? I am URGENTLY looking for the following for features I am researching…
Can men and women just be friends?
I am working on a piece for the women’s section of a national newspaper and am searching for a wife where her husband is best friends with a woman. His woman friend might be a work or business colleague or someone he grew up with or went to uni with. I would need to speak to all three of you and you would all need to be photographed. But a generous payment is on offer plus I can plug any business! As interviewees who sell stories through Featureworld know, I read all copy back to check you are happy with the published story. If you would like more details, then do email me firstname.lastname@example.org
ALSO! Searching for people who are separated or have not bothered to divorce their spouse … perhaps they are quite happy to let the situation drift. For this I am looking to speak to three women in this situation – I have found one so far! So there are two spaces left. Again, copy is read back, you need to be photographed (they come to you with hair and make up!) and there is a payment. Email address the same for more details: email@example.com
And if you have another story to sell then do visit my website.