VETERAN BBC regional news presenter Harry Gration, who lived in York, has died suddenly.

Mr Gration, 71, became a Yorkshire institution after fronting the BBC’s Look North programme for around 38 years.

He was also part of a York institution, making regular cameo appearances in the Berwick Kaler pantomimes at Theatre Royal. 

Mr  Gration announced he was retiring after more than 40 years in broadcasting in 2020.

The news was broken by Look North presenter Amy Garcia at the end of the 6pm bulletin toinight (Friday, June 24).

For the last seven years of his time at Look North, Mr Gration shared the screen with Ms Garcia.

In 2019, Mr Gration became a father again at the age of 68, when his wife, Helen, gave birth to his sixth child.

Gazette & Herald: Harry Gration, pictured with Christine TalbotHarry Gration, pictured with Christine Talbot

At the time of his retirement from broadcasting, Mr Gration said: “For the past four decades, it’s been a privilege to meet the people of the county I love.

“Make no mistake, these good folk are the heartbeat of the programme.

“I’ve worked with the best of the best and leave Look North in the good hands of Amy and the team, although I don’t know how (BBC weatherman) Paul Hudson is going to cope without me checking his forecasts.

“I’m looking forward to some new broadcasting adventures and some special time with my family and a certain one-year-old.”

Gazette & Herald: Harry GrationHarry Gration

He said: “I’ve interviewed every prime minister since Margaret Thatcher, covered every major Look North story even at the expense of my holidays, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

“I’ve always lived the story. Horrendous events such as the devastating news of Jo Cox’s death, the disastrous floods of recent times, the Bradford Riots, Hillsborough, have always affected me. They were always an assault on my county.

“Stand-out moments include raising over £800,000 on a tandem, pushing a sofa and being tied to Paul: three challenges my body will never forget.”

Bradford-born Mr Gration 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.

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

And he won the RTS Best Presenter award twice.

When he retired, Ms Garcia said: “It has been an absolute honour to share the red sofa with Harry for the past seven years: a Yorkshire legend, a mentor and a dear friend.

“Look North is a family and Harry has been at the heart of it for so long. He will be missed by the whole team and our loyal viewers.”

Mr Gration's wife, Helen, speaking to the BBC yesterday, paid tribute to her husband, saying: "He will forever be with us."

She added: "Our three boys and I loved Harry totally. We had an awful lot of fun with him and our home was his life."

BBC Director-General Tim Davie, speaking to the BBC, said: "Harry Gration MBE was an outstanding broadcaster and commentator.

"He had a real connection with the public who saw him as one of their own.

"Loved everywhere, but especially in Yorkshire, he will be hugely missed by his many fans and friends. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."

Mr Gration, former pupil of St Peter's school in York, was more than a just a TV presenter to the people of York.

From charity champion and York City football fan, to panto side-kick and devoted father, Mr Gration was a regular face in the pages of The Press.

He even once had a column for the paper.