Mark Austin says farewell to ITV News after 30 years

The many faces of Mark Austin throughout his 30 years at ITV News Credit: ITV News

Award-winning journalist and presenter Mark Austin has said goodbye to ITV News, signing off for the final time after a remarkable 30-year career.

Mark was given a surprise on-air farewell by co-presenter Mary Nightingale on Thursday's ITV Evening News, which he has presented since October 2015.

Mary said that during Mark's time at ITV News: "He's presented more than 2,500 programmes and been on our screens for more than two million minutes.

"He's reported on everything from sport to disaster - both natural and man-made.

"But no matter what the story, he's told it with compassion and humanity."

Addressing viewers, Mark said: "Before I leave this chair, I just want to say 'thank you' to you at home for allowing me to be a small part of your lives for the past 30 years or so. It's been a privilege.

"It seems to me unbiased, accurate news is now more important than ever and that's what I've tried to bring you.

"Going forward I'll definitely see you somewhere soon. Keep an eye out for me and I'll keep an eye out for you."

Mark previously anchored News at Ten for eight years alongside Julie Etchingham - during which time the programme was twice awarded Royal Television Society Programme of the Year.

Mark himself was named Royal Television Society Presenter of the Year in both 2014 and 2015. His journalism has also seen him win an International Emmy and multiple BAFTA and Royal Television Society awards.

Mark started his career as a cub reporter for the Bournemouth Evening Echo, later becoming one of the youngest national reporters appointed by BBC News, aged just 24.

He joined ITN - the producer of ITV News - in 1986, going on to cover stories including Nelson Mandela's election, the Bosnian war and the fall of Srebrenica in 1995 and the war in Kosovo.

He has presented on location from places as challenging as the Antarctic, the Israel/Gaza border, Libya, Haiti, Nepal, Mogadishu, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over the last three decades, Mark has conducted countless agenda-setting interviews with the likes of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, Prince William, Gordon Brown, Shimon Peres, Tony Blair, Desmond Tutu, Jack Straw and Bob Geldof, generating newspaper headlines around the world.

Writing for the Radio Times to mark his departure, he said the one story which still haunts him to this day is the genocide in Rwanda.

In the piece, he describes the changes he has seen in the industry - the most startling of which has been the advances in technology, enabling him to anchor programmes from anywhere in the world.

Mark Austin anchored News at Ten for eight years alongside Julie Etchingham Credit: ITV News

This has included presenting 27 bulletins from the Iraqi desert in 2003 as ITV followed British troops to Basra - an assignment which tragically resulted in the loss of his friend and fellow correspondent Terry Lloyd, cameraman Fred Nérac, and translator Hussein Osman.

Mark has had a gun held to his head in South Africa, been threatened with imprisonment for 'spying' in Sierra Leone, and was slapped by Imelda Marcos for "impertinent questioning".

But despite that, he says "I have loved every minute".

"I leave ITV News with sadness but also real excitement about what comes next. Like everything else the business of television news is changing fast, the way we deliver it and the way you consume it.

"But presenting and reporting remains the best job in the world. I’ve been addicted to it for years and I’m not cured yet."