12 Sep

Dunkirk Veteran Battling Great North Run

Jim Purcell

92-year-old Dunkirk veteran Jim Purcell will join 56,000 runners as he takes part in the Bupa Great North Run for the 27th time on Sunday (15 September). Nicknamed Jarr Jim, the Tyne and Wear local has stated that the event is "special to the people of the North East...it's ours, it's the Geordie run."

After joining the army at 18, Jim served in France and then Africa. Following his wife Betty's death at just 54 in 1982, 65-year-old Jim decided to take up running as a way of stopping him spending his pension on drinking and smoking.

"I completed my first half-marathon in 1985 and the next year I did my first Great North Run - all of them with Betty's wedding ring around my neck.

The great-granddad says running helped him overcome the grief and isolation he felt after his wife died: "I found the cure for loneliness. People have been wonderful."

Jim has since raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for children's charities and carried the Olympic flame last year. Though, ten years ago it looked like his running days were over: "My German surgeon told me I really had to stop running. I told him: 'Your lot couldn't stop me at Dunkirk and this isn't going to stop me now'. He smiled and put me on his urgent list!"

For more information on the Great North Run, visit the Bupa website.