Ten years after Richard Whiteley’s death, his ‘quality birds’ get ready for charity run

A DECADE after the death of one of Yorkshire’s most iconic TV presenters, Richard Whiteley, the trio of women he dubbed his “quality birds” are to mark the anniversary by completing the Great North Run.

Former partner Kathryn Apanowicz, former Countdown co-presented Carol Vorderman and former Look North news presenter Christa Ackroyd will team up later this year to take part in the 13 mile event in September.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Kathryn said: “Most people I know are shocked when I tell them it’s 10 years since he died. It certainly doesn’t feel like it to me, it’s gone in the blink of an eye. He was a real one-off, he liked to put a smile on people’s faces and he had this image of being a bit bumbling but he had a very quick mind, he was very good at arguing a point and he had a serious side to him.”

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Whiteley was best known for his role as host on quiz show Countdown and also for being the first person to appear on the newly launched Channel 4 on November 2, 1982 but he was a serious news presenter long before that and even reported on the Brighton bombing in 1986 in which the IRA targeted the British Cabinet.

Kathryn said: “He was actually in the hotel at the time, he thought he had died, it was such a shock but he came down all covered in dust and was presenting from the scene.”

Now, together Carol and Christa, with whom she says she has become very close since her late husband’s death, she plans to raise as much money for Marie Curie and the Bradford hospice.

“I think he would be proud of us, if he were still here he would be sat on the finish line having a good old laugh at us. He was always positive about everything. One of the things I will take away from him is that he always had a smile and that’s something I do now. There’s no point in getting down about things in life.”

Christa added: “One of the things he used to call us three was his ‘quality birds’. That was his humorous nickname for us and so it’s something we’ve adopted and that’s what we’re running as.”

Bradford-born Whiteley died on June 26, 2005 aged 61 after fronting Countdown for 23 years. At the time of his death Whiteley was believed to have clocked more hours on British television - and more than 10,000 appearances - than anyone else alive,

Kathryn, who now presents the Saturday breakfast show on York Radio from 6am-9am, said: “We’re calling ourselves Whiteley’s Wanderers and I think that after a few miles we’ll be doing just that - wandering all over the place, which I think would make him laugh.”

Check out their Just Giving site here: www.justgiving.com/WhiteleysWanderers