Former Harrogate Advertiser editor given freedom of borough after 41 years in local journalism

The former editor of the Harrogate Advertiser has been made an honorary freeman of the borough after 41 years working in local journalism.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 9:39 am
Jean MacQuarrie stepped down from her role earlier this year after 41 years in local journalism - including 33 years as editor.

Harrogate Borough Council bestowed the honour upon Jean MacQuarrie, who stepped down from her role earlier this year, at an extraordinary council meeting last night.

Ms MacQuarrie worked as editor for 33 years and also served as editor-in-chief of JPIMedia’s Yorkshire weeklies.

She was also involved in many local organisations including St Michael’s Hospice, the Army Foundation College Independent Advisory Board, Harrogate Business Luncheon Club, Harrogate BID and the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

Ms MacQuarrie said: "For my work in Harrogate and the wider district to be recognised in this way is amazing, and I am very grateful to all the councillors for granting me this, their highest honour.

"I supported many organisations throughout the district, whether that was to help them raise funds, or raise the profile of their work by shining a light on what they were trying to achieve.

"But to be honest, it was easy, because the Harrogate district is full of inspiring, enthusiastic and generous people who are committed to supporting others."

She added: "Local newspapers are all about being a champion for your town and district, highlighting the positives and also challenging and campaigning when you and your readers see something that is wrong.

"I have worked with some great people over the years, and always been lucky to have a good team around me. I had some exceptional editorial leaders too, who gave me free rein to edit the newspapers in the way I wanted to.

"I particularly enjoyed mentoring and encouraging talented young journalists and watching their careers flourish."

The title of honorary freeman is the highest honour the borough can bestow and was last awarded in 2012 to Jonathan Wild, former chairman and chief executive of Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate.

Speaking at last night's meeting, councillor Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said: "Jean has been an unstinting champion for all things in the Harrogate district for decades.

"She ensured that our area's song was sung, that local events were supported week in week out, that campaigns to make our area better enjoyed a high profile and that our businesses were enthusiastically promoted.

"Jean has also made an outstanding contribution to the development of young and upcoming journalists.

"Over the decades I have been involved in local politics, I have seen many young journalists working on the local paper. I have seen them grow and move on to bigger things.

"This doesn't happen by accident. It happens because there is an exceptional person nurturing them. And that person is Jean MacQuarrie."

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter