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Obituary: Jonathan Ali

Date published: 31 May 2019


Respected local radio journalist Jonathan Ali has died after battling cancer for a second time.

Jonathan died at the Christie Hospital in Manchester on Thursday 30 May at the age of 50.

He studied at Bury Grammar School and Oxford University before beginning a colourful career as a journalist for the BBC.

Jonathan spent more than 25 years reporting for the BBC, mostly with BBC Radio Manchester, covering stories in Rochdale, Manchester and Bury.

Major stories he covered included child sexual abuse at Knowl View school and reporting live from the Christie after a fire broke out when he was undergoing treatment for Ewing Sarcoma in 2017.

He also reported on many of Greater Manchester's biggest stories over the last three decades, including the IRA bombing of 1996, Manchester United's famous 1999 treble, the Oldham race riots in 2001 and the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

A keen historian, Jonathan also wrote a book about the World War One soldiers from his home village, Hawkshaw, near Bury.

The BBC has described his work as 'journalism at its best': in 2018 he was named as one of the top 238 most respected journalists by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

His brother, Richard, said: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to let you all know that Jonathan passed away yesterday evening. He went to sleep and from his slumber departed this world. We all had chance to spend time with him during the day.

“He was my brother yesterday, brother today and brother tomorrow. The cancer may have taken his body it did not take his spirit. No retreat, no surrender.

“Thank you to all of you for your support. Thank you too to all the staff at The Christie for caring for Jonathan during the course of the disease.”

Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham said: “The news that Jonathan has passed away is deeply saddening.

“He had a real commitment to all of the communities of Greater Manchester. He was very much one of our own and we will all miss him very much.”

Tributes to Jonathan have poured in on social media:

“He was such a lovely, decent, funny, weird, beautiful human being. It was both a pleasure and honour to know him. He was a great journalist too. He had a passion for the truth.”

“Charisma by the bucket load and full of incredible passion for his beloved Hawkshaw... the village... the landscape... the people... the boys who went to war... a reporter with no bias.”

“We all loved Jonathan and will miss him so much. He was a wonderful man - funny, compassionate and brilliant.”

“A most endearing man, always smiling.”

“He was an amazing journalist.”

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