The family of South Tyneside icon ‘Jarra Jim’ say they hope he will get the “send off he deserves” when his funeral takes place next month.
The death of Jim Purcell, last week, after a short stay in hospital, shocked and saddened people throughout the borough.
The 96-year-old veteran runner and fundraiser had become a favourite of residents young and old, with many looking out for the runner during the Great North Run events he took part in over the years.
His funeral service will take place on Monday March 5 at St Bede’s Church, in Chapel Road, Jarrow at 1pm.
This will be followed by burial at Jarrow Cemetery.
His daughter Betty Bainbridge said: “He just loved to be around people and people loved being around him.
He was the kind of person you just couldn’t keep down no matter what life threw at him. He was loved by everyone.Terry Bainbridge
“He was a people person and loved to see people smile - especially the children.
“We would love for him to have a good turnout at his funeral so he has the send off he deserves.”
Jim first took up running in 1986, following the death of his wife Betty.
Over the years he raised thousands of pounds for children’s charities, collected a number of awards in recognition of his charity work, and been snapped with sporting celebrities.
He was also selected as one of the people to carry the Olympic torch when it passed through the North East in 2012.
But it was his love of people and his passion for running – even well into his 90s - which made him a become icon.
The Dunkirk veteran was a familiar face at the world’s biggest half-marathon the Great North Run - becoming the first South Tyneside nonagenarian to complete the 13.1-mile event.
Since his death was announced, online tributes have flooded social media as people recalled their own memories of the legend known as ‘Jarra Jim’, from those who turned out to watch him in the Great North Run, to those who were inspired by his determination, independence and zest for life.
Last year, his fundraising efforts were recognised when he was presented with the Lifetime Contribution Award during the Gazette’s Best of South Tyneside Awards ceremony held at Boldon Quality Hotel, where he received a standing ovation.
Following his death, son-in-law Terry Bainbridge said: “He was the kind of person you just couldn’t keep down no matter what life threw at him.
“He was loved by everyone.”