Leeds United chief joins tributes after death of former Yorkshire Evening Post editor Chris Bye

Tributes have been paid after the death of the former Yorkshire Evening Post editor who answered Leeds United's call for help at the start of the title winning 1991/92 season.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 11th March 2021, 4:50 pm
Former Yorkshire Evening Post editor Chris Bye

Ardent United supporter Chris Bye made sure the YEP came to the rescue when United were searching for a last minute sponsor in 1991.

Yorkshire Evening Post was emblazoned on the club's shirts during the season when Leeds went on to win the last ever old First Division title.

Chris, who was Yorkshire Evening Post editor and a director of Yorkshire Post newspapers from September 1987 to January 1999, died aged 69 on Monday March 8 after a short cancer battle.

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1992 League Championship. Leeds United v Sheffield United, 26th April 1992 (title winning match)...Carl Shutt, Rod Wallace and Eric Cantona celebrate.

Former YEP production editor Howard Corry said: "Chris was an innovative, inspirational and imaginative editor who demanded the best from his staff and gave much of himself for the paper he loved."

"He was a larger than life figure in many ways; he led the paper to greater things and masterminded a 12-edition a day campaigning Yorkshire paper that was respected by its readers.

"One of his triumphs - and there were many - was the unforgettable season when Leeds United lost their sponsorship at the last minute.

"Chris persuaded the board to spend the paper’s annual promotional budget and won the deal - for very little.

Former Yorkshire Eevning Post editor Chris Bye pictured with his wife Annette after their marriage at Leeds Town Hall in October 2005.

"He was right - Leeds won the league that year with Yorkshire Evening Post on their shirts!

"Illness cut his career short but it didn’t stop him writing and campaigning right up to his death. I’ll remember him with affection, admiration and a little awe."

Leeds United's chief executive Angus Kinnear, said: "Our thoughts are with Chris’ family, he was clearly one of the unsung heroes from a wonderful time in the club’s history.

“The Yorkshire Evening Post logo on the front of our shirt has a cult status amongst our fans and the partnership represents the community spirit that our city is famous for.

Leeds United players wearing their Yorkshire Evening Post shirts while reading the paper during the 1991/92 season Photo: Steve Riding.

“I’m told that Chris played a pivotal part in creating and maintaining a strong relationship between the fans, the YEP and the club, which is still evident today."

Chris's widow Annette said: "He had a keen wit and sense of humour, he swam against the tide, a maverick, he stood up to authority, he challenged.

"A true gentleman, erudite, well-read, lover of the arts. He was the most loving, devoted husband."

Chris leaves three children from a previous relationship: Simon, Laura and Edward and three grandchildren: Alex, Matilda and Alice.

Former Yorkshire Evening Post editor Chris Bye

He also leaves brothers Anthony and Tim and sister, Elizabeth.

Chris Bye was born in February 1952 in the former maternity hospital at Hazlewood Castle near Tadcaster and went to Tadcaster Grammar School.

He was a talented footballer who had signed for York City as a teenager before deciding to focus on a career in journalism.

Chris started out as a trainee reporter with the Harrogate-based Ackrill weekly newspaper group in 1970 and was appointed deputy editor of the Wetherby News in 1972.

He was senior reporter at the Bradford Telegraph and Argus before joining the Yorkshire Evening Post as a 22 year old reporter in 1974.

Chris, of Bardsey, Leeds, was news editor of the Yorkshire Post and editor of its colour magazine and was Yorkshire Post deputy editor from 1982 to 1987.

The Yorkshire Post won two British Press Awards in one year under his deputy editorship.

He was made editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post aged 35 in September 1987.

Chris retired early aged 46 in January 1999 on ill health grounds.

He fought his illness and enjoyed a new career writing classical music reviews for the British Music Society along with autobiographical stories for the Dalesman.

Chris has also worked as a freelance journalist for several national newspapers and was Britain's correspondent for the South African Sunday Express.

He was awarded the national British Press Award in 1980 for investigative journalism and is a former winner of the Witness Box Award for crime reporting.

He has also been named Yorkshire Journalist of the Year.

Under his leadership, the YEP won many national awards, including the Howard League Annual Media Award, the Council for Freedom of Information Newspaper Award, The British Press Award for Provincial Journalists of the Year and several national and regional awards for content, design and individual excellence in writing, design and photography.

Chris served on the main board of the Leeds Initiative and was a member of the Guild of Editors and the British Editors' Association.

Graham Wiles, who was YEP news editor during Chris's editorship, said: "Chris was a tough, inspirational and innovative leader.

"He built up a loyal and skilful team, and under his watch the YEP and its journalists won many national press awards.

"Many journalists have owed their successful careers to Chris's help and guidance."

Former YEP chief photographer Mike Cowling, said: "He was very dynamic and focused. He instilled enthusiasm. It was fun working with him."

Former Yorkshire Post editor Tony Watson said: "Chris Bye was a great editor of the YEP who won the loyalty and admiration of the people who worked for him.

"He was passionate about Leeds and its people and used the power of the newspaper to campaign on causes they cared about.

"Many young journalists got their start in newspapers because of Chris, many going on to have successful careers of their own.

"For a number of years we were counterparts on the two daily titles within Yorkshire Post Newspapers and he was a terrific colleague and excellent company.

"He had a wicked sense of humour and laughter was never far away in his presence. He will be greatly missed."

Neil Hodgkinson was Chris's deputy at the YEP for four years and succeeded him as editor in January 1999.

He said: "He was a great bloke. He was very generous with his time and he had a good sense of humour.

"I learned a lot from him, it was a thoroughly enjoyable time."

Chris was a dedicated supporter of the hospice movement in Leeds, taking the YEP's Half and Half Appeal for Wheatfields and St Gemma's hospices to £1.7m during his time as editor.

His family requests that any donations in his memory are made to the Half and Half appeal.

A Covid restricted funeral service will be held at All Saints' Church in Bramham from 11am on Tuesday March 23 followed at 12.20pm by a non attended cremation at Stonefall Cemetery and Crematorium in Harrogate.