EVERY once in a while in this job, there comes a time when we have to write a story that we really wish we didn’t have to write.
As journalists, we go out with our notebooks, fill them with stories, and put them in the paper.
It isn’t really rocket science when you think about it.
Some are good news stories, others may be on the negative side and leave us open to criticism, but sometimes you get a story which can only be described as heartbreaking.
That was certainly the case last week with the tragic accident which claimed the life of town teenager Rhys Hewitt.
Rhys’s mum is a former colleague at the Mail, and she knows that all of our thoughts are with her and her family.
None of us can even begin to imagine what they are going through at the moment.
I’ve said in this column before that the way the people of this town rally round never ceases to amaze me.
That has certainly been the case over the last few days since Rhys’s death, and this time it is the town’s teenagers who deserve a huge pat on the back.
Since they were told the tragic news by their headteacher Mr Lee last Thursday morning, the students from English Martyrs have been a credit to themselves and their school.
Grief-stricken by the loss of their pal, youngsters quickly took to Facebook to share their memories of Rhys.
There were hundreds of comments which were moving, genuine, touching and clearly from the heart.
But more importantly they rallied around each other, and have continued to do so since the accident.
Anyone who has driven down Brenda Road over the last few days will have been moved by the sight of the floral tributes left in Rhys’s honour near to the spot where the accident happened.
I saw a group of youngsters there on Friday afternoon, just sat quietly on the grass looking at the flowers and reading the messages as their own way of paying their respects to their friend.
The same goes for the group of Rhys’s pals who went en masse to the Hartlepool United game on Saturday with their ‘RIP’ banner, and to the crowd who went to Seaton Carew seafront to release lanterns.
We’re quick to criticise the kids when they’re hanging about the street corner looking a bit menacing, so credit where credit’s due for their actions over the last few days.