#YEP125: The paper that’s packed with personalities

HANDS-ON APPROACH: Council stalwart Bernard Atha.
HANDS-ON APPROACH: Council stalwart Bernard Atha.
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As the Yorkshire Evening Post prepares to mark its 125th birthday next month, Paul Robinson looks at some of the paper’s best-loved people.

The people of Leeds have been the heartbeat of the Yorkshire Evening Post since its first edition was published on September 1, 1890.

Whether it is the men and women who feature in our pages or the journalists who tell their stories, the YEP has always been a paper packed with personalities.

Here are profiles of five people who have made the headlines and five more who have written them:

* Early in its life, the YEP drew national attention to local clergyman, the Rev James Sutherland, and his Never Seen The Sea fund.

Born in Scotland, the Rev Sutherland moved to Leeds in 1906 and would later organise day trips to the seaside for thousands of needy youngsters. He also established a hostel in Scarborough for poor children.

* As the YEP celebrated its 80th birthday back in 1970, 100-year-old Mary Ann Corson was named as our oldest reader.

Mrs Corson, who was a Hunslet iron founder’s maid when the paper was first printed, said she still checked the headlines despite her failing eyesight, adding: “They keep me in touch with events.”

* Bernard Atha spent 44 years as a councillor for Kirkstall – and famously invited no fewer than 25 “outstanding” women to act as mayoress during his time as mayor in 2000 to 2001.

His hands-on approach to political life was highlighted in 1979 when he took to the rooftops to help a resident in Vicarage Place, Kirkstall, who was having problems with her house.

* Ivy Needham became a familiar face in the pages of the YEP after leading a campaign to get justice for the Maxwell pensioners in the 1990s.

She was named Yorkshirewoman of the Year in 1996 and was also awarded an MBE. Mrs Needham died in 2013 aged 88.

* Jane Tomlinson, from Rothwell, won admirers around the world as she raised £1.8m through a series of endurance challenges before her death from cancer aged 43 in 2007.

Events such as the Leeds 10K continue to be held in her memory and earlier this year it was announced that the amount raised by the Jane Tomlinson Appeal and its partner charities had reached £7.5m.

* Hunslet-born Keith Waterhouse was a journalist on the YEP before moving to Fleet Street in 1951 and penning celebrated fictional works such as Billy Liar.

His 1994 memoir, City Lights, was described by another son of Leeds, politician Gerald Kaufman, as depicting “the Leeds that I loved, the Leeds that time and change had taken away”.

* Best-selling Woman of Substance author Barbara Taylor Bradford began her working life in the YEP typing pool and then landed a job in the paper’s newsroom.

Speaking in 2009, she said: “I loved my time on the Yorkshire Evening Post and it’s because of that, along with the way my mother and father brought me up, that I am where I am today.”

* Dire Straits rocker Mark Knopfler worked as a reporter at the YEP and attended Leeds University.

Originally from Newcastle, he played guitar in the city’s pubs and clubs during his spell with the paper.

* Don Warters was the YEP’s Leeds United man for more than 25 years, winning the trust of legendary figures such as Don Revie and Howard Wilkinson.

Speaking in 1995 about his time covering the Whites, Don said: “It is a sign of a thriving club when stories emerge with great regularity and even taking into account those eight years when United were out of the top flight there has never been a shortage of them.”

* Yorkshire actor Brian Glover was a columnist on the YEP for nine years, entertaining readers with anecdotes from his varied life told with typical northern wit and wisdom.

Brian’s fellow columnists in the 1990s included Coronation Street actress Thelma Barlow, Yorkshire and England cricket star Darren Gough and Leeds United captain Gordon Strachan.