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Sporting body honours long-serving columnist

A former assistant editor who has written a squash column for nearly 40 years has been recognised for his outstanding contribution to the sport.

Fred Willis, left, who spent nearly four decades at the Yorkshire Evening Post before retiring in 1994, started writing his weekly round-up of the local squash scene after a new manager asked what facilities there were in the area.

Thirty-eight years later, with the column still going strong, Fred was presented with an award for his long-serving promotion of squash at the National Championships in Manchester on Saturday.

Fred, 67, told HTFP: “Squash does suffer from a lack of publicity. I am very lucky I worked for a paper that recognised a lot of people play squash.

“Yorkshire is a very strong area as folk like thumping a ball against a wall very hard.

“Journalists are a bit hard-bitten and we report other people receiving awards but when it happens to you you’re not quite ready for it as the tables have been turned. It was a very good day.”

Fred, who also worked for The Northern Echo in the early part of his career, said he had no plans to stop writing the column and will alos continue contributing freelance sport and news stories.

He should have plenty of material as both the men’s and women’s winners at last week’s National Championships hail from Yorkshire.

Chief executive of England Squash Nick Rider said: “Fred Willis is a kind of unsung hero for squash which is why we wanted to recognise his great contribution.

“To produce weekly reports on squash for such a long time is a real labour of love – and we’re hugely indebted to him.”

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