Getting home from school back in the early 90s, the first faces I’d see on the tele were those of the affable Harry Gration and his co-anchor, Christa Ackroyd on Look North. It was a compromise between me and my Dad (more of a fight for a remote which I lost every time) which resulted in my involuntary-yet-frequent exposure to the news, but it’s one that I credit greatly for my keen interest in the region that shaped me: Yorkshire.
After tea every evening, folk from across the county would scramble for the flicker to turn on BBC One (my family included), waiting for their daily update of heartwarming stories and news from across God’s Own Country – delivered by, of course, Harry Gration.
But it wasn’t the content that had us coming back for more the next day. Gration had a talent. Not just a talent for being affable and friendly on camera, but a talent for forming a connection with those on the receiving end of his words. A talent for making Yorkshire come together as a community upon receipt of his words.
Taking over our screens from 6.30pm every weekday night, Gration and Ackroyd would distract us from the world around us with uplifting tales from near and far, while I, a budding 8-year-old journalist (still making her own make-believe magazines with paper and crayon) would dream about how I, too, could one day sit in the chair where Gration sat every single night. Today, I sit in a chair at The Yorkshireman, hopefully doing Yorkshire even a tiny fraction of justice that the broadcasting legend did for all those years.
And it might be a stretch to say that Harry Gration was a large part of most Yorkshire folk’s lives. But it’s a stretch I’m willing to go to considering the vast majority of us own televisions. Let’s face it, even if you don’t recognise the name, his friendly face will ring a bell.
The journalist we all knew and trusted, Gration remained loyal to Look North for a commendable 40 years, which is not only a testament to his fantastic career in the media, but a testament to how dedicated he was to his home county.
In addition to his work for British journalism (which earned him a prestigious MBE), Bradford born-and-raised Gration also got stuck into other Yorkshire traditions, including donning the tights (and ladies undies!) in York pantos with local legend, Berwick Kaler – and even acted as honorary Mayor of Burn and Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire.
If there was one man who deserved the title ‘The Yorkshireman’, it was Harry.
Basically, what I’m saying is, Harry Gration will be a man who is long remembered fondly, and one who will long remain a true Yorkshire icon.
Harry Gration sadly passed away aged 71 on June 24th 2022, almost two years after retiring from broadcast journalism.
[Featured image: BBC]