Civic reception for Jarra Jim

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Richard Porthouse and his wife Patricia presenting Jim Purcell with his gifts.
The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Richard Porthouse and his wife Patricia presenting Jim Purcell with his gifts.

A charity champ was left ‘flabbergasted’ after a civic ceremony is held in his honour.

Jim Purcell, known affectionately as ‘Jarra Jim’, was invited to Jarrow Town Hall today in recognition for all of his fundraising effort over the last 30 years.

The 94-year-old has raised thousands of pounds for various charities by taking part in the last 28 Great North Runs.

During the ceremony the Mayor of South Tyneside Coun Richard Porthouse handed the Dunkirk veteran a special glass and pen plus and he was presented with medal from Joe Milner, events manager for the Great North Run Company

Jim said: “I just can’t believe they are doing this for me, I am flabbergasted and it’s not often I am at a loss for words.

“All of this stems back to when my wife Betty and I watched the Great North Run one year. I said I was going to do it, and she said she’d wave to me from the bridge.

“But she died a few months later, that was the hardest thing to have ever happen to me, but that year in 1986, I did the run.

“And I’ve just been running ever since.”

The joyous occasion means Jim’s week ended on a high after his home in Falmouth Drive was burgled on Sunday.

The burglar escaped with a safe containing insurance documents, sentimental papers and loose change from a little tin pot Jim keeps on his coffee table.

A 39–year–old man has since been arrested and bailed on suspicion of burglary and is helping police with their enquiries.

However, nothing is stopping Jim and he’s even planning on being in this year’s Great North Run - even though he admits his running days me be over.

He said: “Bad things happen, it doesn’t stop me.

“But my legs have kind of seized up since June 1 last year, I think there’s something wrong with the arteries so I’m not really running about as much.

“But mark my words I’ll still be in the run this year.”

Coun Porthouse added: “We wanted to do something to honour Jim as he is an incredible man and he’s done so much for charity over the years.

“He is such an inspiration and he is absolutely fascinating to listen to.

“Despite being burgled this week, he forgives the intruder, and he’s just got one with things, he’s incredible really, not many people could be as forgiving as Jim.”

Mr Milner added: “On behalf of everyone at The Great Run Company it is an honour to present Jim a medal in recognition of his fund raising over the past 29 years. Jim is a true inspiration and helps make the Great North Run the world’s favourite run.”