Devastated colleagues and friends of Harry Gration pay tributes to 'outstanding broadcaster' and 'proud Yorkshireman'

Tributes are pouring in for Harry Gration, one of Yorkshire’s best loved broadcasters, who has died at the age of 71.

The 71-year-old was a staple diet for teatime viewing for generations who tuned into Look North, which he fronted for the best part of 38 years before stepping down in 2020.

Look North presenter Christa Ackroyd, who worked with Harry for 13 years and knew him for 30 years, said: “We met on my birthday recently and were supposed to meet up for lunch next week.

“Although he was my work colleague he was above all my friend. We shared many happy times together.

Much loved broadcaster Harry Gration has died Picture James Hardisty

“He did so many things but the thing he was most proud of was bringing news to Yorkshire people. He wasn’t a professional Yorkshireman, he was a proud Yorkshireman.

“I remember when we both got honorary degrees at Bradford University, we both smiled at each other. Two Bradford kids from ordinary backgrounds being given honorary degrees. He was so proud to represent Yorkshire. What a man he was.”

Harry joined the BBC in 1978 after working as a history teacher, and joined Look North in 1982, although he left for a spell working on BBC South Today in the 1990s.

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Harry Gration arriving for his last day at work on 21st October 2020 Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

He covered nine Olympic Games for the BBC and won two Royal Television Society awards for his sports documentaries: White Rose In Africa in 1992 and Dickie Bird: A Rare Species in 1997. He also won the RTS Best Presenter award twice.

In 2013 his work in broadcasting was recognised when he was appointed MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Six years later he became a father again at the age of 68, when his wife, Helen, gave birth to his sixth child.

Mrs Gration paid tribute telling the BBC: “He will be forever with us.

“Our three boys and I loved Harry totally. We had an awful lot of fun with him and our home was his life.”

Nicky Chance-Thompson, chief executive of The Piece Hall in Halifax, said Harry would be sorely missed.

She said he had been a great supporter of The Piece Hall, attending its reopening in 2017, and right up until Covid taking every opportunity to film there.

She added: “He was a very proud Yorkshireman, he loved his family, he loved his county. What a great ambassador he was for Yorkshire.

“Everyone who came into his presence absolutely loved him and respected him. He was really warm - he knew how to engage with people - people felt they could talk to him.”

BBC Director-General Tim Davie said Harry was an “outstanding broadcaster and commentator” and said he was loved “everywhere but especially in Yorkshire.”

York Theatre Royal tweeted that he had been a “wonderful friend, appearing on stage many times, most recently in April. He was a Yorkshre hero, he had cush grace and we loved having him around.”

The school he attended, St Peter’s at York, said they were “devastated” to hear the news, adding: “We were privileged to know him.”