A former BBC South Today presenter has died suddenly at the age of 71.

Harry Gration fronted the regional news programme alongside Sally Taylor between 1995 and 1999.

However, he is best known for his career spanning 40 years at BBC Look North in Yorkshire.

Harry, born in Bradford, became a Yorkshire institution, loved by his viewers for championing causes close to their heart and raising tens of thousands of pounds for charity.

His passing was announced on air by his former co-presenter and friend, Amy Garcia, on Friday evening.

Jason Horton, acting director of BBC England, described Harry as “one of the true broadcasting greats”.

“He was a natural on the television and on radio, adored by our audiences, especially as the trusted face of Look North and South Today,” he added.

“He loved news, sport, his colleagues and fundraising for Children in Need and Comic Relief. Our thoughts are with his family, his friends and everyone across the BBC who he worked with.”

Basingstoke Gazette: Yorkshire player and cricket umpire Dickie Bird with BBC television presenter Harry Gration. PA Wire/PA Images Yorkshire player and cricket umpire Dickie Bird with BBC television presenter Harry Gration. PA Wire/PA Images

Harry 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.

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

Speaking after it was announced he was leaving the BBC in 2020, Harry 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.”

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

Tributes flooded in from the world of media, sport and politics following the news of his death.

Leeds United described Harry as “a magnificent journalist and a pillar of our community”, while Yorkshire County Cricket Club tweeted: “We are deeply saddened to discover that former Board member and friend of the Club, Harry Gration, has passed away. Our thoughts are with Harry’s friends and families at this difficult time.”

Channel 5 news presenter Dan Walker, who recently left his role on BBC Breakfast, tweeted: “Harry would often call to talk & once, I’d been hammered in the press for something, he called with the kindest & most helpful words of encouragement. He cared. He was brilliant to work with, wonderful to watch & just a true gentleman”.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said she was “shocked and deeply saddened”.

She tweeted: “Harry was one of the kindest, most approachable people in journalism. His support for good causes &his love for #Yorkshire was unmeasurable. Always had time for a chat.

“RIP Mr Look North – you will be missed by so many.”