How former mill worker Mark carved out career with Sky TV

MARK White may not be seen much in Hawick these days, but he's still a well-known face in households around the town due to his role as one of Sky TV's top news correspondents.

The former Lyle & Scott and Pringle hosiery worker has indeed made a real name for himself on the satellite channel in doing a job that has taken him to all parts of the world, in all sorts of circumstances.

However, Mark, who is highly respected for his television work, never in his wildest dreams thought he would have a career in television when he was a youngster being brought up with his brother Malcolm by their grandparents Frank and Penny Hall in Havelock Street, as well as mother Margaret who worked permanent nighshift as a nurse.

Taking up the story, Mark – who was staying with his granny in her Sandbed home during a fleeting visit to see family and friends – told the Hawick News: "Never in a million years did I think I would end up in television. I went to St Margaret's Primary and Hawick High School, from where I only got by and left with the minimum qualifications.

"I hadn't really a clue what I wanted to do, and for a year I did work experience at the police station as part of the youth opportunity scheme. This was good as I got to work in the front office, control room and, sometimes, on the radio.

"There were no jobs going though, and as there was a freeze at the time in the recruitment of police cadets, there was nothing for me in that area either."

Mark then got a job in Lyle & Scott's for six months, before leaving to work in the packing department in Pringle's, where he worked for a few years.

During this time he had no thoughts about being involved in the media industry, until one day fate played its hand. Mark explained: "I bumped into Richard Grodon, my old English teacher at the high school, on the High Street. He was working with Radio Tweed, and we had a chat during which he said the station was looking for volunteers, and would I be interested in going along.

"I did and gained a lot of experience, and even got to read the news. So thanks to Richard Gordon, that's how it all really started for me."

Mark now had a taste of being involved in the world of news, and took another step in this direction by joining the staff of the recently-formed Hawick Weekender newspaper as reporter/editor.

It was to be a shortlived appointment, however, and talking of this, Mark said: "The paper had just been going for a short period when I got the job and everything seemed fine.

"But after about six issues it folded. I was absolutely devastated as I'd given up my full-time job to join the Weekender.

"However, Colin Whyte, the station master at Radio Tweed, who is now in television with BBC Scotland, offered me some work with Radio Tweed.

"It wasn't quite full time but at least I was working doing something that I enjoyed."

Fate was then to play another part in Mark's career again, when he was drafted in by Radio Solway, Radio Tweed's sister station, to help with its coverage of the Lockerbie bombing disaster.

He was to remain with Radio Solway full time for a year, before going to Radio Scotland in Glasgow for a while.

The door of television was in turn to open for Mark when he joined Border Television as a producer/reporter.

Reflecting on this period, Mark said: "Working for Radio Solway on the Lockerbie happenings was a real learning curve for me, and I grew up very quickly.

"When I joined Border Television I had the responsibility of running two separate news bulletins, which last ten minutes, and I also worked on Lookaround. This was a very exciting time and I enjoyed my time with Border."

Mark continued: "I left Border, however, to go to Grampian Television. It was a similar set-up to Border and had North Tonight, which was its equivalent of Lookaround. I covered many high-profile news stories at Grampian, including the Dunblane massacre."

After seven years with Grampian, Mark made the switch to Sky News in London as a reporter in 1999. And he has since moved up the Sky ranks to become home affairs correspondent.

During his days with Sky, Mark has been involved in a multitude of breaking news events around the world, such as the tsunami disaster, the Cumbria murders and the General Election.

Mark said of his experiences: "Many of the stories I have reported on really hit home and have an effect on you. But you have to be professional and do your job. I also feel privileged to be reporting on them in the first place.

"However, whether I'm thrown into a studio, or on an outside broadcast, it's working live that I enjoy the most. And this is what I really like about Sky. You just have to keep on talking and put over the story. It gives me a real buzz."

Relating to life nearer home, Mark commented: "I don't get the chance to come to Hawick as much as I would like. It's always nice to visit though and I've always been known as Malcolm's younger brother. I like this though, as Malcolm is so well known.

"I have been very fortunate to to have travelled all over the world through my work and have seen many places.

"But I have to say, I like auld Hawick the best."