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December 17, 2018updated 30 Sep 2022 7:15am

BBC’s Chris Mason unveils blue plaque for ‘incredible’ Yorkshire journalist W. R. Mitchell

By Charlotte Tobitt

BBC political correspondent Chris Mason returned to his home county to unveil a blue plaque honouring an “incredible Yorkshireman and journalist” who edited a regional monthly magazine.

Mason (pictured, centre) took a break from reporting on Westminster to commemorate the life of W. R. “Bill” Mitchell, who edited Yorkshire magazine The Dalesman for 20 years.

Mitchell began his career as a junior reporter at the Craven Herald in Skipton. He later joined The Dalesman as assistant to founding editor Harry Scott before becoming editor himself in 1968.

Mitchell also wrote for regional newspapers including the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post during his career and penned some 200 books, mostly about the county.

Following Mitchell’s death in 2015, aged 87, his son David Mitchell nominated him for a Yorkshire Society blue plaque for dedicating himself to writing about the county for more than 60 years.

The blue plaque ceremony was held on 7 December at Skipton Parish Church of England Primary School, where Bill was shown the first copy of The Yorkshire Dalesman, as it was then called, by one of his teachers.

Mason, whose parents both taught at the same school, told attendees: “It is a privilege to be here, standing on the shoulders of a giant of Yorkshire journalism.”

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Describing Bill as “an incredible Yorkshireman and journalist”, Chris added: “To doff my reporter’s hat in Bill’s direction, at the school where my mum and dad met and where my dad spent his entire career, is really quite something.”

Mitchell’s retirement was marked with a programme on Yorkshire TV about his life, narrated by playwright Alan Bennett. He was awarded an MBE in 1996 and made an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Bradford.

He had also been the first patron of the Yorkshire Dales Society, was voted Greatest Living Icon for the Yorkshire Dales National Park in 2009, and was voted 33rd in a poll to find the 75 great icons of Yorkshire in 2014.

Said David Mitchell: “There cannot be many parts of our great county that haven’t been touched by his magical presence and my sister and I are very proud of him.”

Picture: Adrian Braddy

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