VETERAN newsreader Harry Gration held back tears as he signed off for the final time at a live broadcast from Barnsley.

The popular BBC Look North presenter, who celebrated his 70th birthday yesterday, capped a 42-year career outside the town hall on Wednesday evening.

After the broadcast, in which long-time colleague Paul Hudson congratulated him and he received a round of applause from gathered crew members, Harry told the Chronicle it was ‘appropriate’ he’d said goodbye in Barnsley.

“I’ve been through an emotional journey over the last three days, and I’ve been astounded by just how many comments I’ve had - tens of thousands,” he said, before being whisked off to his leaving celebrations.

“I just thought there’d be a few people saying ‘clear off, you’re old’.

“It’s appropriate in one sense to be in Barnsley, because this has been the scene of so many of the broadcasts we’ve done in the past.

“I said it at the top - it’s been a big, big part of my life, people telling it straight to you, and I’ve enjoyed that part of it.

“Barnsley means a great deal to me for that.”

Former history teacher Harry, who was awarded an MBE in 2013, announced his retirement last week.

Harry’s last broadcast was originally scheduled to take place from the studio, before South Yorkshire’s new tier three lockdown restrictions meant it was ‘inevitable we had to do it here’.

“It’s a big story, and I’ve always tried to do big stories,” he said.

“It summed it up very significantly when I showed what it was like here earlier in the evening. It was really quiet, and that’s before tier three kicks in.

“I’ve always been a people person, I relate to people who are suffering, and I do feel sorry for the people here.

“I know the resilience will win in the end, but it might be a tough old journey.”