Harry Gration: I still love my job on Look North

Harry Gration.
Harry Gration.
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Harry Gration, 63, gave up a job as head of history at Rodillian School to join a radio station - and has never looked back. JAYNE DAWSON reports.

Broadcaster Harry Gration, 63, is a presenter on BBC Look North and a familiar face on our television screens. He lives in York with wife Helen and their twin sons. He has three older children from his first marriage.

My first job was in the photographic department of Boots in York. My dad was the manager there. I learned a lot about 35mm film, which is not useful knowledge to have now.

The best advice I ever received not be disheartened by rejection but to keep trying and get more experience. I had just tried, and failed, to get a job at Radio Leeds.

I was a teacher for five years, and head of history at Rodillian School in Wakefield. It was a safe job but I always knew I wanted to be a broadcaster and I was already working on radio at weekends. I still love history but I have never regretted making the move.

My guilty pleasure is watching cricket. I snatch an hour here and there during the day. If my colleagues ask I say I am going out on research - I feel slightly guilty but not enough to stop doing it. I am on the board at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and I try to get to Headingley whenever Yorkshire are playing.

I hate people who are rude, and I don’t like people who answer their phone when they are being served by someone. It just doesn’t feel right.

I would have loved to have met Winston Churchill. I have never been able to understand how he could have been defeated in the next election after being such a great wartime leader. It would be good to talk to him about that.

My favourite weekend would be spent golfing, even though I am a poor golfer. It’s a sport that really absorbs me, probably because I am so poor at it.

I was a high maintenance teenager for my mum and dad. I lacked confidence. I think partly it was because we moved house a lot when I was young, I went to six primary schools between the ages of five and eleven years old and I went to three different schools in one year. I actually fell way behind and it was a long time before I caught up again. My mum liked to move house.

I do Twitter, but I don’t get involved in anything controversial. It is a good way of finding out about stories, people get in touch. I don’t do Facebook though.

My philosophy of life is to try to help people, especially younger people in my business. I have reached that stage of my career now. I also try to do at least one charity event a week, sometimes more.

I still love doing Look North and I don’t know how long I will continue. I think I will know when the time comes to stop, or I hope someone will tell me - nicely. I do take a power nap in the afternoon though. We all share a dressing room but no one tends to be in it mid afternoon so I get my feet up in front of the telly and drift off for 20 minutes.

I couldn’t live without newspapers. Newspapers are an institution we should continue to support, we would miss them if they weren’t there.

My most embarrassing moment happened on screen with Judith Stamper. We were interviewing Dennis Skinner MP when his microphone broke. Someone crawled onto the set with another and a hand came up like Excalibur and put it on the table in front of him in full view of the camera - and no one said a word. We just pretended it hadn’t happened. It makes me cringe to think about it. Television interviews were more formal then. I used to try to be very cool - Des Lynam was my hero.

The last time I cried? I shed a tear when Yorkshire won the championship. ET always makes me cry, and I cried on air when I got my MBE.

It might surprise people to know that I have a collection of Subbuteo games, and I still get them out of the attic every so often. The problem is I need a cushion for my knees now if I put the game on the floor.

The closest I came to death was three years ago when I had a major operation. I had to have a portion of my stomach removed so now I can’t eat much- I’m a cheap date. I went down to nine and a half stones at one point. My problem is keeping weight on, I am eleven and a half stone but I could be a lot less, I have to be careful.

My first kiss was under Oakwood clock with Josie, when I was about 13. We met at the Mecca in Leeds one Saturday morning.

The first record I ever bought? The Next Time by Cliff Richard.

I think Leeds is a great city, I have worked in it virtually all my career. It has improved a lot - I remember when air pollution used to cause terrible fogs - real pea soupers.

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