Morcombes honour Daily for pursuit of Daniel's story
WHEN the Sunshine Coast Daily was named Newspaper of the Year back in 2011, we dedicated the award to the memory of Daniel Morcombe.
Fast forward 9 years, and the Daniel Morcombe Foundation has returned the honour, marking the Daily's dedication to finding Daniel and his killer with the Morky Award.
It's an honour that has been bestowed on Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson, the Perth-based covert taskforce that launched the sting which trapped Brett Peter Cowan, television news icon Kay McGrath, Daniel's school Siena Catholic
College and entertainer Sophie Monk to name a few.
Denise Morcombe said Daniel and his killer would never have been found were it not for the work of the Daily.
When Daniel first disappeared, the Daily devoted front page after front page to his story and the hunt for the person responsible.
Bruce and Denise took the Daily through clippings they had kept from the paper, including the poignant day when Daniel's twin brother Bradley marked his 14th birthday without Daniel.
When hundreds gathered to farewell Daniel at his funeral, the Daily produced an incredible front page montage by graphic artist Paul Stuart while video tributes streamed on its website.
Bruce says his most powerful memory from that day was the sea of orange uniforms of State Emergency Service volunteers who had spent hundreds of hours in the search for Daniel and clues to his abduction and murder.
The Daily was instrumental in the formation of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation with former editor in chief Peter Owen helping to organise the first fundraising event, the Day for Daniel - a charity golf day at Horton Park Golf Club which raised more than $80,000.
The Daily also organised to bring Denise's parents up from Melbourne as a surprise, with the help of local businessman.
When the Daily won one the prestigious PANPA Newspaper of the Year Award in 2011, then editor in chief Mark Furler dedicated the award to Daniel.
"Our coverage of Daniel's story over almost eight years is a good example of the heart and soul of this newspaper," Mr Furler told a crowd of 500 media executives in Sydney.
"We made a commitment from the outset that we would not let Daniel's story fade until he was found.''
Daniel was abducted and murdered on the December 7, 2003 after waiting for a bus to go Christmas shopping
Cowan was arrested and charged on August 13, 2011. Daniel's remains were found in bushland near the Glasshouse Mountains on August 21, 2011.
When news of Daniel's arrest broke, Bruce and Denise fronted up to a packed media conference outside of their home.
The Daily's editor was there, writing: "As Bruce and Denise Morcombe shared their pain over the news that Daniel would not be coming home, many journalists there were visibly moved.
"Watching Denise battle through that press conference was one of the hardest things I have experienced in almost 25 years,'' Mr Furler wrote.
"To our newsroom, Bruce and Denise were more than just a story.
"Some of us were honoured to share in their private journey.
"And along with police, parents, teachers and students, we joined them on the annual Walk for Daniel.
"Watching that sea of red snake its way from Woombye to Palmwoods each year filled us all with pride.
"We were part of a community that genuinely cared."
Last year, more that 1.3 million took part in Day for Daniel activities while 350,000 children watched Australia's biggest child safety lesson.
The Daniel Morcombe Foundation's Facebook page now has more than 350,000 followers.
Daniel's legacy of making every child in Australia safer from predators has exploded over the past 17 years. The Daily has been incredibly proud to be part of that.