#YEP125: How your YEP has helped to fly the flag for good causes

Just one of the many campaigns run by the YEP.
Just one of the many campaigns run by the YEP.
Have your say

As the Yorkshire Evening Post prepares to mark its 125th birthday next month, Paul Robinson takes an in-depth look at the paper’s campaigns.

We’re on your side – that’s been the message to readers from the Yorkshire Evening Post since the newspaper’s first edition hit the streets back on September 1, 1890.

The YEP’s campaigns, investigations and fundraising appeals have long marked it out as one of the country’s great crusading media titles.

Here are 10 of the best examples of its determination to fly the flag for good causes in its home city and beyond:

* The YEP’s Half and Half Appeal is thought to be the longest-running newspaper charity campaign in the UK.

Launched in 1982, it initially aimed to raise £250,000 to share equally between Leeds’s Wheatfields and St Gemma’s hospices.

Today the total stands at £2.8m and the paper is working flat out, with the support of its readers, to hit the £3m mark.

* The YEP began its Leeds Needs An Arena campaign following the huge success of two Robbie Williams concerts in Roundhay Park in 2006.

The paper’s call to arms helped deliver the momentum for the city’s First Direct Arena, which opened in 2013 and has played host to star names such as Bruce Springsteen, Lionel Richie and local heroes Kaiser Chiefs.

* The Armley Asbestos Tragedy investigation did much to uncover the deadly legacy of Leeds’s JW Roberts factory.

A growing number of cancer deaths in the Armley area were traced to the former factory in 1988 as a result of the YEP’s investigation.

l* One of the YEP’s earliest campaigns was Boots For Bairns, launched way back in 1921.

Running until 1940, it aimed to provide boots and clothing for poor youngsters in a city where rickets was so widespread that the condition acquired the unhappy nickname of ‘Leeds Legs’.

Even in the 1980s, readers still regularly wrote into the paper to share their childhood memories of receiving new pairs of boots, shrewdly stamped in a way that discouraged parents from pawning them even in times of desperate need.

* The YEP-backed £150,000 Heartbeat Scanner Appeal paid for new cardiac ultrasound equipment at Leeds General Infirmary’s Yorkshire Heart Centre.

Fundraising events included a gala dinner at the Queens Hotel and a celebrity golf day in 2000 supported by sporting heroes such as Brian Close, Duncan McKenzie and Garry Schofield.

* An undercover YEP investigation in 1988 exposed the grim truth about the cruel ‘sport’ of dog fighting.

Three people were convicted following the Killer Dogs investigation while the Government went on to announce measures designed to get to grips with the problem.

* The YEP named and shamed Sheepscar-based housing repair firm Midland Coating Company in 1998 over its use of high-pressure sales tactics that were forcing often elderly customers to pay extortionate prices for work on their homes.

A petition to shut down the firm in the public interest was subsequently presented to the High Court in London on behalf of Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers.

* The YEP threw its weight behind calls for a clean-up of the River Aire in the summer of 1990.

Success was achieved four years later when the Government announced that Yorkshire Water should spend an extra £60m improving the state of the region’s rivers, including the Aire.

* A single phone call to the YEP in 1977 triggered an investigation into claims that Asian people were having to pay bribes to win jobs and promotions in the local bus industry.

A union official and a transport worker were later jailed 
for corruption as a result 
of a probe that saw the 
paper’s reporters receiving death threats.

* The YEP’s current campaigns include a push to get as many people, organisations and firms as possible involved with plans for Leeds’s bid to be named European Capital of Culture 2023.

Council bosses have been inundated with scores of expressions of interest from across the city since the newspaper issued its rallying cry last month.