Cricket legends join family at service for ‘Mr Yorkshire’ Harry Gration

Former archbishop of York Lord Sentamu gave the sermon for his ‘dear friend and fellow traveller’ in York Minster.

01 August 2022

Cricket legends Sir Geoffrey Boycott and Dickie Bird joined hundreds of family members, colleagues and friends of the late BBC regional TV presenter Harry Gration to remember “Mr Yorkshire”.

Former archbishop of York Lord Sentamu told mourners in York Minster on Monday that it was fitting the award-winning 71-year-old’s funeral took place on Yorkshire Day as he gave the sermon for his “dear friend and fellow traveller”.

Gration died suddenly last month.

Harry Gration funeral
Former England cricket player Geoffrey Boycott arrives at a service of thanksgiving for BBC presenter Harry Gration at York Minster in York (Danny Lawson/PA)

He became a Yorkshire institution after fronting the BBC’s Look North programme between 1982 and 2020 in a career spanning more than 40 years.

His co-presenter Amy Garcia told the congregation: “Harry was the heartbeat of the programme and head of the Look North family for four decades.”

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Former cricket umpire Dickie Bird (left) and Lord John Sentamu arrive at the service (Danny Lawson/PA)

She said: “Often called Mr Yorkshire, he was passionate about the county and its people.”

Harry Gration funeral
BBC Look North presenters Amy Garcia (left) and Keeley Donovan speak at the service at York Minster (Danny Lawson/PA)

Ms Garcia said Look North had received thousands of messages from well-wishers since Gration’s death.

She said: “He was their voice. He was on their side. He was their friend too.”

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Harry Gration’s widow Helen Chene at the service (Danny Lawson/PA)

Gration’s widow Helen paid tribute to her husband along with two of his sons – Harrison and Harvey.

Mrs Gration said: “We know that we shared him with many. To us he was a husband, dad and daddy and we loved him totally.”

Harry Gration funeral
Lord John Sentamu addresses mourners (Danny Lawson/PA)

Earlier Mrs Gration, Harrison and Harvey followed the coffin which was carried into the centre of the Minster through the Great West Door, decked with white flowers.

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Harry Gration holding his MBE. The former BBC regional news presenter died at the age of 71 (John Stillwell/PA)

It sat before the altar next to a table covered by Gration’s multiple awards and honours and with a floral tribute spelling out “Dad”.

Harrison sang At The River by Aaron Copeland.

Gration, who retired from the BBC in 2020, became a father again at the age in 68 in 2019 and Mrs Gration said their young son Hammie was “his last gift”.

Batley & Spen MP Kim Leadbeater told the congregation about the support Gration gave her when her sister, Jo Cox, was murdered in 2016.

Ms Leadbeater said: “Mum and dad and I will never forget the kindness and compassion he showed us in our hour of need.”

Outside the minster, former umpire Bird told the PA news agency Gration was a “Yorkshire legend” and “a true friend”.

He said: “I’m still a bit shocked and stunned.

“What meant most to me was his friendship.

“He was there at the early part of my career.

“He always supported my career and he did so much for me.

“It’s a very, very sad day. I shall miss him. I have a lump in my throat now.”

Bradford-born Gration joined the BBC in 1978 after working as a history teacher, and then 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.

He won the RTS Best Presenter award twice.

He was made an MBE for services to broadcasting in 2013.

When he retired, he said some of his “standout moments” were his charity challenges, including a tandem ride across Yorkshire, pulling a red BBC sofa around the county and a three-legged trek with weather presenter Paul Hudson which raised hundreds of thousands of pounds.

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