Harry Mead, journalist: an inspiration, a traditionalist and an excellent writer

Tributes were paid to a passionate journalist who loved poetry, the countryside and his family – and was a renowned columnist for over 50 years.

At the age of 84, Harry Mead, of Great Broughton, Stokesley has died. Tributes for the man and his work poured in from friends and colleagues.

For over 50 years he wrote for The Northern Echo and was modest in the extreme. Signing off with his last column, he wrote. “My two most recurring concerns have been social justice, not enough and the care of the countryside which, apart from my family, is my main source of pleasure.

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“But unless it was the removal, shortly after I drew attention to it, of a bin thoughtlessly sitting at the foot of the 199 steps in Whitby, I don’t believe I made the slightest difference .”

Many would disagree in applauding Harry’s beautiful writing and dedicated support.

He began his journalism career at Redcar High School in 1956, turning down the chance to go to college to ensure he wouldn’t lose the chance to marry his beloved wife Shirley, who died the year last.

Starting as a reporter for the Middlesbrough Gazette, he moved to the Echo, bringing warnings of how we are looting the countryside at our peril.

Harry Mead wrote a column for the Echo for over 50 years

He wrote: “There has to be progress, but the Industrial Revolution has rarely benefited the people who are at its epicenter.

“East Cleveland’s iron industry boomed for 25 years and after that it largely declined, but when you’ve messed up your environment, it’s very hard to get back to prosperity.

“You can never truly restore beauty. The human soul needs beauty as well as bread, that’s where I stand.”

Former editor Chris Lloyd said: “Harry spent 50 years as a columnist exposing injustice and promoting natural beauty.

“He was an early pro-Brexit voice, having voted against joining the EEC in 1975 because it took away Britain’s precious autonomy, and one of the first environmentalists

“It’s a cliché, but it was inspirational – it showed me that you can be a serious local journalist, writing about places and people in a way that acts as a catalyst for change. but also in an entertaining way that keeps readers informed and coming back for more.”

Former editor Peter Barron added: ‘Harry was a charming and evocative writer, with an in-depth knowledge of the natural world. He wrote about the countryside with great affection and authority, and as a result he was a columnist who attracted a large and loyal following.

“He also loved poetry and could summon a verse for every occasion. A kind, gentle, down-to-earth, no-nonsense man who wrote about the north in a glorious way.

The Northern Echo: Harry Mead at the Wainstones in the North York MoorsHarry Mead at the Wainstones on the North York Moors

Echo columnist and journalist Mike Amos said no one knew the North York Moors better than Harry, adding: ‘He promoted them, protected them, wrote eloquently and often passionately about their enduring appeal.

“As a cricketer he was a Spout House man. As a journalist he was a traditionalist and a good writer.”

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