The broadcaster Christa Ackroyd says she doubts her friend and former co-presenter Harry Gration would want any grand memorial to his life and career.
Christa, who was due to meet Harry for lunch in York this week, paid an emotional tribute to ‘a real man of the people’ today.
She said he would be rather horrified to think of a statue being erected or a building named after him as some have suggested. He was a humble man from Bradford who loved living in York and who felt ‘lucky’ to be able to broadcast to his home region, she added.
Harry, who was 71 and the face of the BBC in Yorkshire for 38 years, died suddenly on Friday. As well as presenting Look North he was a respected sports journalist appearing on network tv and had also been a radio presenter and a teacher.
Christa says he would have been astonished at the outpouring of love for him over the weekend.
“He was mentioned on the national news – he would have been astonished at that too,” she said.
“But the one thing that really brought tears back into my eyes was when a huge picture of him appeared at Headingley, with the date of his birth and the date of his sad death.
“He loved his cricket and oh my goodness, that would have been all the testament he would have needed.”
Switched channels for Harry
Christa Ackroyd was already well known as presenter of ITV Yorkshire’s Calendar when the BBC in Leeds made efforts to get her to switch channels.
She told YorkMix Radio it was the chance to work with Harry Gration, who had returned north after a spell on BBC South Today in Southampton, that made her move.
“I kept saying I need to work with somebody that I like, because I had had the most fantastic relationship with Richard (Whiteley on Yorkshire TV).
“I couldn’t go to an anonymous co presenter, and they wouldn’t tell me who I would be working with.
“And then lo and behold, Harry came back. And that’s who they had in mind all along.
“And I jumped at it. Because we were always friends. We were always at the same events and, and we always had Bradford in common,”
Christa continued: “He was exactly the same off screen as he was on screen. He always had time for everybody.
“He did hundreds, literally hundreds of charitable events. He never said no to anybody. You know, he never said no to anybody who wanted a photograph either.
“He was a real man of the people. He was proud to be a Yorkshireman and he felt lucky and honoured to be a broadcaster broadcasting to the area in which he’d been brought up.”
She said: “He was so natural, so lovable, so honest, and above all so genuine.
“And he was my friend. After I left the BBC, we kept in touch. I only saw him two weeks ago at my birthday party.
“We just exchanged text this very Tuesday, to meet for lunch next week in York. And to be honest, like many people, I can’t quite process it.
“I just want to how proud I am that he was my friend.”