MARTIN Noble, who was one of the pioneers of television in Yorkshire and a writer on aviation, has died aged 78. He was also a rugby union enthusiast, gaining prominence for mini-rugby in England, as well as a tireless community worker.
In 1968 he became editor of Look North, when the BBC news programme began in Leeds, but his prime interest was aviation and he eventually took early retirement from there to be a full-time writer on the subject.
Mr Noble was educated at Giggleswick before training to be a journalist in the old school tradition, starting on a weekly newspaper then progressing through regional newspapers before going to Fleet Street, then the traditional home of national newspapers.
He began on the Stockport Express, later moving to the Manchester Evening News and the Daily Telegraph, for whom he was air correspondent. He then joined the BBC, becoming one of the team hand-picked to establish a news operation in Leeds and was the longest-serving producer of Look North.
He combined his aviation interest with television documentaries, including a notable one about the 1967 Stockport air disaster which went on to be screened in 21 countries, and became a training film for accident investigators.
In that accident, the fourth worst disaster in British aviation history, 72 of the 84 people aboard were killed and 12 survivors seriously injured when a chartered holiday flight crashed in the town centre after running out of fuel on its second approach to Manchester Airport. Miraculously, no one was killed on the ground. He also produced documentaries about Yorkshire pioneer Robert Blackburn and the Buccaneer fighter.
After early retirement from the BBC he wrote for Airline World and Travel Weekly, then became air transport correspondent of Interavia in Geneva, and UK correspondent of the French weekly Air&Cosmos. He was also on the international panel of judges for the annual Aerospace Journalist of the Year Awards.
His travels included a visit to the Canadian high Arctic, where he narrowly escaped death when the door of a light ski-plane fell open. The pilot managed to grab him by the scruff of the neck and haul him back in.
At home in the village of Brockholes, near Huddersfield, he was a member of Huddersfield Rugby Club for whom he played until he was 50. He was club secretary and in 1969 a founder committee member of the Club Age Grade Section, then known as the Cubs. He combined his interest with his broadcasting career, being instrumental in an editorial on the Cubs making national television.
Under his guidance the club also published a newspaper at that time, and he was also involved in many fund raising events. His enthusiasm for the game led to him and Jeremy Thompson, a news presenter for Sky News, organising the Northern Press Rugby Club, which played many games for charity.
The club made him an honorary member in recognition of his contribution over many years, including the recent creation of media and historical information displayed in the reception area at its Lockwood Park ground.
He was also a referee for many years before becoming an assessor with the Yorkshire Referees’ Society.
Mr Noble was a member of Holme Valley Parish Council for which he once negotiated the purchase of the old village school for £1.
He was also the founder chairman of Brockholes Village Trust and arranged for a replica of the village’s Toll Bar signpost to be erected on the site of old toll house. The original had been discovered in his coal cellar and later donated to the Tolson Museum in Huddersfield.
He is survived by his wife, Bryden, sons Andrew and Nick, and grandchildren Jack and Isobel.