Obituary: Fred Willis

Parkinson Charity wine tasting event held at The West Park Hotel 09. Fred Willis, Margret Willis, Clive Dunnington and Renee Dickinson. AM101009

Parkinson Charity wine tasting event held at The West Park Hotel 09. Fred Willis, Margret Willis, Clive Dunnington and Renee Dickinson. AM101009

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A FORMER Harrogate councillor and award-winning journalist has died aged 69.

Fred Willis, who served on Harrogate Borough Council for 12 years, died on Sunday, May 29.

Mr Willis left local politics last year and was later diagnosed with vascular dementia.

He began his career aged 15 as a tea boy in the Ripon offices of the Northern Echo, before moving on to the York Evening Press three years later.

He then moved to the Yorkshire Evening Post with glowing references, working his way up to finally becoming assistant editor before a biking accident forced him to retire in 1996.

But life as a district councillor followed, along with regular freelance reporting, including for the Harrogate Advertiser. He was particularly admired for his squash and tennis coverage and, in 2009, he was presented with an outstanding contribution award by the English Squash and Racketball Association.

Daughter Helen said: “He had a bad biking accident which forced him to retire but I think the word retirement should be in inverted commas as he then took up freelance writing.

“He was a fit and healthy guy who used to go running up until he was poorly and it has been a rapid decline over the last few months but at least he has had a peaceful end.

“The phone has not stopped ringing with people offering their condolences.”

Mr Willis had hoped to retire to a holiday home in Grewelthorpe, a place he liked to visit with his wife Margaret, who survives him along with Helen, son Richard and four grandchildren.

His funeral will be held on Friday, June 10 at 12.30pm, to which anyone who knew him is invited to pay their respects. A full tribute will appear in this Friday’s Advertiser.