Tributes have been 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, from Great Broughton, Stokesley has died. Tributes for the man and his work have 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 of it and care of the countryside which, outside my family, is my chief source of pleasure.

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“But, unless it be the removal, shortly after I drew attention to it, of a litter bin thoughtlessly set at the foot of Whitby’s 199 steps, I don’t believe I’ve made a scrap of difference to anything.”

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

He began his journalistic career from grammar school in Redcar in 1956, turning down the chance of university to ensure he didn’t lose the chance to marry his beloved wife Shirley, who died last year.

Starting as a reporter with the Middlesbrough Gazette he transferred to the Echo bringing warnings of how we despoil the countryside at our peril.

The Northern Echo: Harry Mead wrote a column for the Echo for over 50 yearsHarry Mead wrote a column for the Echo for over 50 years

He wrote “You’ve got to have progress, but the industrial revolution rarely benefited the people at the epicentre of it.

"East Cleveland’s iron industry boomed for 25 years and after that it was largely decline, but when you have messed up your environment, it is very difficult to regain prosperity.

"You can never really 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 railing against injustice and promoting natural beauty.

"He was one of the first voices in favour of Brexit, having voted against joining the EEC in 1975 because it took away Britain’s precious autonomy, and one of the earliest environmentalists

“It is a cliché, but he was an inspiration - he 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 fashion that keeps readers both informed and coming back for more."

Former Editor Peter Barron added: “Harry was a lovely, evocative writer, with a deep 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 up 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 on the North York MoorsHarry Mead at the Wainstones on the North York Moors

Fellow Echo columnist and journalist Mike Amos said none knew the North York Moors better than Harry, adding: “He promoted them, protected them, wrote eloquently and oft-passionately about their eternal allure.

"As a cricketer he was a Spout House man. As a journalist he was a traditionalist and a fine writer.”

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