TV legend who started his career in Harrogate returns for literature festival

Former Harrogate Advertiser journalist and Newsround presenter John Craven, will attend the Raworths Literary Festival next weekend.
Former Harrogate Advertiser journalist and Newsround presenter John Craven, will attend the Raworths Literary Festival next weekend.

Televison legend, John Craven, is returning to his roots for the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival.

Former Harrogate Advertiser journalist and Newsround presenter John Craven, above, will attend the Raworths Literary Festival
Mr Craven, who previously worked for The Harrogate Advertiser before launching the world’s first television news bulletin for children, John Craven’s Newsround, in 1972, will be taking part in the festival on Saturday, October 19.

After more than 3,000 editions, John left Newsround in 1989 to present the hugely successful Countryfile where he has remained ever since.

He has paid tribute to Harrogate ahead of his visit, expressing his love for the town.

He said: “I love the way it retains its old-world charm and identity, with timeless assets like the Pump Room, the fine hotels, the Valley Gardens and the incomparable Stray yet has successfully taken on the challenges of modern times and become a leading conference and exhibition centre.

“That was just starting to happen when I worked there 60 years ago and was perceived as a bit of a gamble - but it has certainly paid off.”

More than 20 recently published authors - ranging from much-loved television presenters and historians to speech writers, business leaders, actors, music critics and a former British Prime Minister - are appearing at this autumn’s Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival.

Over the course of the festival’s four days - which is being held in the town’s Crown Hotel from Thursday, October 17 to Sunday, October 20 - the guest speakers will not only entertain their audiences but inspire and educate them too.

Mr Craven has also spoken fondly of his time at The Harrogate Advertiser, where he began his career.

He said: “It was where I survived as a trainee journalist despite making some terrible mistakes, such as inadvertently sending a leading local cleric his obituary in the post - he was still alive, and he forgave me.

“The Advertiser was and still is a fine local newspaper and my experiences there taught me, I would hope, to be an accurate and honest observer. The small team of reporters was young and keen, and I made great friendships as we battled to meet deadlines. In my memoir I look back most fondly at those formative times.”

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And offering his advice to anyone interested in a career in journalism, he added: “Very few journalists, including me, had a degree when I started, but now it is the jumping-off point, though not necessarily one in ‘media studies’. Much depends on which area of print or broadcast journalism interests you.

“There are far more opportunities these days but also there is far more competition. Have faith in yourself and you should succeed.”

Mr Craven has now had his memoirs published, which recount his childhood, the high points and low points of one of the longest broadcast careers in history, and the people, family and animals in his own life.

He said: “I made the decision three or four years ago. It seemed to me that quite a lot had happened to me during my lifetime that might be worth reading so I should put it on record while I still had the ability to remember.

“I don’t think I would have done anything differently. I’ve had some lucky breaks, learnt from my mistakes and had a happy and fulfilling life. Maybe I should have paid more attention at school and then strode the groves of academia but to be honest I don’t regret the path I have taken.”

He added that he is looking forward to returning to Harrogate and seeing how things have changed.

Now in its ninth year, the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival is considered one of the finest events of its kind and is delivered again by Harrogate International Festivals.

The opening day begins with a literary lunch featuring Simon Weston, who received 46 per cent burns when his troopship was struck by an Argentinian Exocet missile in the 1982 Falklands War, and concludes with a rare public appearance by David Cameron, who reportedly squirreled himself away in a shepherd’s hut to write For The Record, a memoir of his time leading Her Majesty’s Government.

Other household names appearing during the festival include Shoestring and Waking the Dead actor Trevor Eve; BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin, war reporter Damien Lewis, business titan Sir Tim Waterstone, music writer Stuart Cosgrove and former ITN royal correspondent Tom Bradby.

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