Skip to main page content.
Skip to site navigation.
Skip to section quick links.

Low vision/text layout | Advanced search

University of Bradford logo with link to home pageAward Ceremonies - live!

Honorary Graduates

Christa Ackroyd, Doctor of the University and Harry Gration, Doctor of the University

Harry and Christa.

Thursday 17th July 10.30am

Christa Ackroyd

Christa will be made an honorary Doctor of the University for her contributions and commitment as a journalist and television news presenter and in particular, for her unfailing and varied support for the City and District of Bradford.

Christa joined BBC's Look North programme in 2001 as co-presenter, where she can be found working next to Harry Gration. Previously, she was with Yorkshire Television for over a decade as presenter of its nightly programme Calendar, working alongside the late Richard Whiteley.

Born and educated in Bradford and the daughter of a policeman, she decided she wanted to be a journalist at the age of nine.

On leaving school she started work at the Halifax Evening Courier where she stayed for four years. After that she moved into radio - first Pennine Radio, then Radio Aire in Leeds where she became the country's first female radio news editor.

Christa has a fascination with the law and crime, and it was whilst at Radio Aire that she was put in charge of reporting on the Yorkshire Ripper case. She provided bulletins for network radio and worked around the clock. "Luckily I can survive on very little sleep but at one stage I don't think I saw my husband for three-and-a-half weeks!

"I fought hard to get the big stories - women reporters in those days didn't get to do things like crime and war, we'd just get the 'fluffy' stuff. Thankfully, things have moved on but I think it's very important women on television reflect real viewers - it shouldn't matter whether you're a size 8 or a size 16."

After making her name at Radio Aire, a telephone call from Yorkshire Television gave her the opportunity for her next career move. "I still think that once people see you on television, they assume you walk into the studio at about 5.30pm, pick up a script and sit down. It's not like that at all - I'm still going to be out reporting - chasing fire engines if necessary - and when you see me at 6.30pm, that's just the end of a day's work."

Christa has never been tempted to move out of Yorkshire and lives up on the Moors. She has three horses, two dogs, two cats, three children and a husband. "And that's usually the order I feed them in!" she adds.

Harry Gration

Harry will be made an honorary Doctor of the University for his contributions as a radio and television news and sports broadcaster, both locally and nationally.

Harry currently works alongside Christa Ackroyd as presenter of BBC Look North. He presented the programme alongside Judith Stamper for ten years from the mid-1980s, and returned to Look North in 1999 after a five-year break from the programme.

Harry trained to be a teacher in Leeds and originally taught history there. However, he has never followed a normal career pattern and used school holidays to do match reports for BBC Radio Leeds and BBC Radio Humberside.

His natural talent was soon spotted and he gave up teaching for a three-month contract as sports editor of Radio Leeds. During Harry's break from this region, he tried out a professional job with a sport he'd followed for years - rugby league. In 1994, he became their Public Affairs Executive - and returned to broadcasting soon after. It is, he says, a year he'll always remember!

Harry then went on to report and present for BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Match of the Day, Sportsnight and Grandstand before he spent four years presenting BBC’s South Today programme, where the viewers took him to their hearts.

He went on to become a regular reporter and commentator for the BBC's Olympic and Commonwealth Games coverage, travelling the world for his profession - most recently at the 2000 Olympics. Harry has also won two Royal Television Society Awards for his sports documentaries: White Rose in Africa (1992) and Dickie Bird - A Rare Species (1997).

Harry is a huge advocate of the Yorkshire region. “You'd find me in Scarborough - walking the sands along the North Bay, to be precise. I love seaside towns - their smells, their look. The North Sea is hardly glamorous but it always has something to offer. It never looks the same. Every season it's different.”

Harry strongly believes the viewer must feel at home with the person they invite into their home every night, when they turn on their television: "But the poor souls get me looking back at them!"




Set Styles