Remembering Harry Gration MBE
Harry Gration MBE
Harry Gration MBE, and a deputy lieutenant of North Yorkshire, died suddenly on Friday aged 71.
Readers in Lancashire, Cumbria and the North East will, along with Yorkshire Times' readers, be saddened at the death of Harry Gration as he truly represented the voice of the North. He was widely known and respected across the regions of the North for the expert knowledge he brought to his sports commentary.
Presenting the BBC's Look North
daily news programme from 1982 until 2020 with, initially, Christa Ackroyd and then Amy Garcia, he was able to form partnerships that appealed. His secret seemed to be his 'banter', which was never more on show than when working with weather presenter Paul Hudson. Their chemistry was legendary, and so natural. It was a form of media gold that rival stations simply could not replicate.
Harry's dulcet tones have been a comfort to commuters travelling on the 36 bus anywhere between Ripon and Leeds, who have for years, heard him intone sentences with that recognisable voice, such as: "We are arriving at Harrogate Bus Station, stay on board if you are heading to Leeds." It was an astute move of Transdev to recognise how comforting his voice was.
Harry was without doubt a natural communicator. His TV presence never overwhelmed his subject matter and his appeal as a broadcaster was very wide indeed. He was as comfortable interviewing Prime Ministers as he was the person on the Leeds omnibus.
As an all-rounder who understood the seriousness of news when it mattered - as demonstrated with his coverage of Hillsborough or the tragic death of Jo Cox MP - his judgement of when and how to convey a light hearted story was impeccable.
More than a 'talking head' news presenter, Harry remained extremely popular after his retirement.
When I was Chair of Ripon’s St Cecilia Orchestra, he was extremely pleased to receive the invitation to come along and narrate a concert of film music. He took direction from the conductor and was easy to chat to. His approach was to help the orchestra, never himself, and he was a very popular choice for the role.
Whilst working at the CBI my colleague and Regional Director for Yorkshire & The Humber, Penny Hemming OBE DL, described him as having a "tinkly warmth". The two of them shared a sense of humour and she, like me, found Harry's insatiable love for life, infectious.
I regret that I was not able to attend the press night at York Theatre in April when he was on tour with ITV's Christine Talbot. Former news rivals both retired and retiring on a grand night full of anecdotes about life in front of the camera. I bet it was fun.
Harry Gration was a gentleman; extremely accomplished yet always modest. He will be missed.
Harry is survived by his wife Helen and their three boys.