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Fond farewell to former Grantham Journal reporter

The family of a former Grantham Journal chief reporter have paid tribute to their father, who passed away last month, aged 84.

Harry Thomas was the chief reporter at the paper in the 1960s.

Harry was born in Dundee in September 1933 as the second youngest child in a family of seven. He was given the same name as his father - Harry Rainford Thomas, so to everyone he was known as Junior.

During the war, he was put on a train with a label tied to his coat and a bag of sweets and evacuated to Brechin.

His daughter Sian Thompson, said: “He thought this was a great adventure until he realised he was not going home at bedtime.”

Harry excelled at school and was awarded the Dux Medal in his final year. It was during his school years that Harry started studying book-keeping, typing and Pitman’s shorthand.

As his parents could not afford for him to attend Grammar School, Harry left school at 15 and got a job at the Dundee Courier and the Fife Herald as a news reporter.

After spending two years in the RAF as part of his National Service, he returned to his chosen career in journalism. In February 1960, he took a coach down from Scotland with the Scotland Rugby team and reported on the Wales Scotland International at Cardiff Arms Park.

It was during a dance that night that he met Mair, and after a romance, they married and moved to Fife.

The doting couple went on to have four children, Howard, Sian, Fiona and Mark and Harry took a job with the Grantham Journal and the family moved to Grantham from Scotland in 1961.

During his time with the Journal, Harry bought his first car, a blue and white Triumph Herald, and proudly bought the private registration plate HRT5.

This number plate, his telephone number ‘Grantham 3000’ and his meticulous attention to detail, confidentiality and a good eye for a story made Harry a very memorable and popular man in Grantham.

Sian added: “Gynaecologists offered to buy dad’s number plate, however it was too sentimental to sell as everyone knew dad as HRT5.”

Harry moved from the Grantham Journal to the Nottingham Evening Post and covered Grantham, Newark and the surrounding area.

Sian added: “He was on call 24 hours a day and made a career covering all news items including magistrates courts. Fiona and I had to tell him boyfriends’ names for him to check that they had not been up in court!”

Despite his busy career, Sian remembers how he would always make time to ensure that his children completed their homework to the highest standard. He instilled in them a love of reading and a pride in written work, being a stickler for meticulous spelling, punctuation and grammar.

After more than 25 years with the Nottingham Evening Post, Harry moved to South Kesteven District Council (SKDC) to be their public relations officer.

It was during his time at the council, that he lost his beloved Mair after she passed away suddenly in 1995.

After 10 years with SKDC, Harry, who also had 10 grandchildren, retired in 1998, aged 65, and met Mary in September 1997, when she was a town clerk at Bourne. They married in February 1998.

After having his first cancer operation in 1992, Harry was diagnosed with cancer a second time and had hormone treatment before being diagnosed with a third cancer in 2017.

Harry passed away in Brookfields Nursing Home on April 7 2018 with his two daughters at his side. His funeral took place in Derby at Markeaton Crematorium on Friday April 27 with a beautiful floral tribute depicting his iconic number plate ‘HRT5.’


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