The Guardian said goodbye this week to a journalist whose longevity was possibly rivalled only by Radio 4 Letter from America broadcaster Alistair Cooke.

Harry Griffin has died, aged 93, after contributing fortnightly despatches to The Guardian’s Country Diary column for 53 years, right up until his death.

He was originally taken on by then editor AP Wadsworth, who said: “Write about anything you like, but for God’s sake, keep off birds.”

Griffin started his journalism career at 17 as a reporter on the Barrow Guardian, later moving on to the Lancashire Evening Post. As well as writing for The Guardian about the Cumbrian hills, he authored a number of books and was awarded the OBE in 1996.

Former Guardian editor Peter Preston said: “Harry painted the lakes with loving words. He was a genius of evocation and description. And the great thing, if his cause lives on, is that 100 years hence, he will still be that supreme painter, locked in time.”

The paper has not yet announced a successor.

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