Young journalist who set up own sports news agency dies at 27

Most journalists who have obituaries about their working life have had long careers in the business, but news agency founder Charles Golder was just 27 when he died.

Charlie (pictured) knew from an early age about the importance of making the most out of life while you can – because you never know how long it will be there.

He was a sufferer of the extremely rare Pompe disease, a genetic condition that wastes muscle and often leaves sufferers crippled and wheelchair-bound.

Charlie was diagnosed aged 15 and by the time I met him he should have also been in a wheelchair, but he had refused to accept that fate.

He managed to put on muscle when others would have been losing it and he stayed on his feet, amazing the doctors who were treating him.

Born in Chichester in West Sussex on 16 November, 1990, he moved to France with his father Andrew, his mother Lucy and his elder brother Joseph when he was just 18 months old.

He enjoyed a wonderful rural upbringing in the French countryside where his fascination with wildlife began. Bilingual in French and English, he was passionate about music, wildlife and football.

Charlie went to the University of Nottingham Trent to study linguistics. He moved to Vienna, Austria, in the summer of 2013 after finishing his master’s degree in psycholinguistics, with a particular focus on bilingualism and cognition.

He planned to stay briefly in the city working as a teacher at the University of Vienna’s Language Centre and teaching English to diplomats, and had wanted to eventually move on to Japan.

But it was in Vienna that he faced another challenge after being diagnosed with a stage four nasopharyngeal carcinoma after constant nosebleeds caused by a cancerous tumour behind his nose and near his right eye.

After months of chemo and radiotherapy, the tumour disappeared, with doctors assuring him that very few people ever became metastatic, and he threw himself back into Vienna, where he found the two great loves of his life: his Italian girlfriend Benedetta and journalism.

Perhaps realising better than most how life offers no guarantees, he was not content with teaching and wanted a job more satisfying for him. It was in Vienna that he was able to combine his qualifications with his love of writing to become the chief sub-editor at Central European News (CEN).

For a brief period he was both a teacher and a journalist, torn by the fact that he wanted a job that could provide a home and support a family on the one hand and the uncertainties of the media business on the other.

But Charlie believed in journalism and because he was an expert at defying the odds there was, for him, only one choice.

Within CEN he set about learning the business at an enormous rate, absorbing the Associated Press and BBC style guides and combining them with his linguistic skills.

After having mastered the sub’s desk and made it his own, he then turned his hand to the other parts of the company, working to introduce a French desk and, for the first time, sports copy into the agency’s output.

Under his enthusiastic control, the sports copy eventually became a desk in its own right and, in December 2016, we sat together and agreed a deal to make the sports desk into an agency in its own right.

The last time I saw Charlie in the office, on 19 December 2016, he was preparing to fly to Italy to meet his girlfriend’s parents for the first time and the new sports agency was ready to launch on his return, but he never made the journey.

Charlie been ill for some days but carried on working – that illness turned out to have been a collapsed lung. He was moved into hospital where they found his cancer had returned and spread and that it was very aggressive.

Months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy followed but they appeared to be ineffective and in October 2017, while waiting for an MRI scan on his back which was causing him severe pain, his legs suddenly failed him and he was again taken into emergency surgery for an operation on his spine.

He would never walk again.

But Charlie never gave up hope. From his hospital bed, he once again restarted plans for Golder’s News and Sports, working on the logos and webpage, and organising staff.

Once the company was established, he continued to monitor copy from his hospital bed, giving feedback to his brother and fellow journalist Joe.

I saw Charlie two days before he died, sitting beside his bed at the Vienna AKH hospital as he outlined his plans for the future when he would be released from hospital and could get back to work.

But it was too little and too late, and he died at 5.50am on 3 January, 2018, with his family at his side.

His cremation will take place on 13 January in Vienna. His funeral and the burial of his ashes will take place at a later date and will see his wish of becoming a tree fulfilled.

Joe said: “Charlie was what I treasured most in this world. He worked so hard and never ever gave up. He never complained once. He may have been younger than me, but I looked up to him.

“His mind and life force were as powerful as the body that was failing him was weak. He is the strongest man I have ever known.”

After a life spent defying the odds, Charlie lost his last battle, but he remains an inspiration among those who worked with him and his legacy will live on.

His brother Joe is to take over the agency, with its three staff, that Charlie founded. It will reopen for business on 22 January.

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