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Heather Clark was a fine journalist, fighter & friend, she will be sorely missed

Heather Clark  -  © private

29 June 2018

Heather Clark an inspirational journalist, who showed just what can be achieved no matter what life threw at her, has died aged 57.

She was a reporter and producer for ITV Yorkshire's Calendar news service and deputy Mother of the Chapel.

Heather was someone who took on every challenge thrown at her in life and sent them all packing. She always said if somebody told her she can’t do something, a button switched on inside her and stated: "You just watch me". 

Her motto was, "Nothing is impossible", and she proved that many times, having been born with no limbs - her mother having been one of the pregnant women who took the morning sickness drug Thalidomide during pregnancy. 

Heather grew up in Leeds in the early sixties and seventies, when her disability was then seen as a stigma - but she proved anyone with any preconceptions wrong. 

With the support of parents, Tom and Christine, who always believed she should never be held back, Heather was determined to live her life to the full. She attended a mainstream school and thrived. At four, using her artificial legs, she had ambitions to be a ballerina.

Her family also gave her riding lessons, and loving the freedom and control of movement they gave her, she dreamed of being a showjumper. Her father adapted a car for her as a teenager, using a joystick to steer and she was able to be independent. She started work at 19, ending up at Yorkshire Television, now ITV Yorkshire, where she enjoyed a 25-year career.

The show jumping came into its own when, aged 30, and working as a reporter, she discovered the Riding for the Disabled Association and she took up carriage driving, going on to win numerous national championships on her beloved horses Barney and, later, Pickle, and compete at international level against able-bodied riders.

Nothing held her back. Settling in Bardsey, she travelled the world, thought nothing of going to London to catch a show or see friends on the spur of the moment, and completed a 12,500 foot parachute jump for charity.

Martin Fisher, NUJ father of the chapel at ITV Yorkshire, said:

"I knew Heather for the best part of 30 years having trained with her on the NCTJ course at the long demolished Stradbroke College in Sheffield.
"She was a remarkable woman. The sight of her mastering T- line while using her teeth was something I will never forget and put to shame anyone not putting the effort in. She was a staunch supporter of the union joining myself and other colleagues on the picket lines during the strike at ITV in 2015.
"She made a documentary about other victims of the Thalidomide drug, determined as she said to tell the story of a group of people who are now dwindling in number, so what happened would not be forgotten.
"Heather was a fine journalist, a fighter and a friend and she will be sorely missed."

Heather was independent and feisty and determined to overcome any obstacles, but even she admitted that her diagnosis with incurable ovarian cancer 18 months ago was a 'blip', as she called her challenges. Yet, she took it on with her usual positive, fighting spirit and underwent several gruelling rounds of treatment and chemotherapy to hold the disease at bay.

While being treated, she began campaigning in the media for the ovarian cancer charity, Ovacome, determined that no other woman should miss the symptoms that evaded her. Between hospital visits, she planned a huge charity ball to raise money for the charity - an event which sold out in weeks.

Heather said of herself: "I turn into a demon until I achieve what I want – even if there’s a bit of me thinking it won’t happen."

Heather left her hospital bed a few weeks ago, donned her glad rags to receive the Yorkshire Choice Awards Special Recognition Award. She died surrounded by her friends and loved ones. Days earlier, she had spent time with Barney.

She is survived by a brother, Howard, nephew Sam, and niece, Georgia.

Tags: , tribute, obituaries, obituary, itv, yorkshire