Harry Gration, the former presenter of BBC Yorkshire’s Look North news programme, has died suddenly, aged 71.

Mr Gration joined the BBC in 1978 and Look North in 1982. He presented his last show in 2020.

During his career, he won two Royal Television Society (RTS) awards for sports documentaries and he won the RTS Best Presenter award twice.

Mr Gration’s wife, Helen, 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 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, who was born in Bradford, began filing match reports for the BBC while working as a history teacher in the mid-1970s.

While at the corporation, he reported on Match of the Day and Grandstand and commentated on several Olympic and Commonwealth Games, and also presented South Today.

When he left the BBC in October 2020, the day before his 70th birthday, he said he had “always lived the story”.

Events such as the death of Jo Cox, the Bradford riots, the Hillsborough disaster and recent flooding in Yorkshire had “always affected me”, he said.

Harry Gration spent nine days in 2016 tied to fellow Look North presenter Paul Hudson on a 121-mile three-legged walk

Mr Gration said his stand-out moments during his time at the BBC had been raising a total of over £800,000 for charity while on a tandem with fellow presenter Amy Garcia, pushing a sofa and tied to Look North colleague Paul Hudson.

The latter challenge, in 2016, saw him spend nine days on a 121-mile (193 km) three-legged walk across North, South and West Yorkshire which raised more than £190,000 for Sport Relief.

In 2013, his work in broadcasting was recognised when he was appointed MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours list.

He said the MBE was “an overwhelming honour. Something I never thought would happen to me”.

“For a lad born in a back-to-back in Bradford, I know my mum and dad would have loved to have been around for this day,” he added.

Harry Gration with MBE

Jason Horton, Acting Director, BBC England, said Mr Gration was “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 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.”

Aside from broadcasting, Mr Gration had been president of the Scarborough Cricket Festival, chairman of the Yorkshire Tourist Board Tourism Awards and was involved with numerous charities.

He was also a deputy lieutenant of North Yorkshire.

In July 2011, he was awarded an honorary degree by the faculty of arts at Leeds Metropolitan University, and in 2013 he was named Man of the Year at the Yorkshire Awards.