Friend pays tribute to South Tyneside running legend ‘Jarra Jim’

Jarra Jim collecting his Best of South Tyneside Award in 2017.
Jarra Jim collecting his Best of South Tyneside Award in 2017.

The woman who nominated ‘Jarra Jim’ for a lifetime contribution award has paid her own tribute to the runner who has became a South Tyneside legend.

Agnes Fenwick was so inspired and touched by the work of pensioner Jim Purcell that she put pen to paper to nominate him for a Best of South Tyneside award last year.

Jim 'Jarra Jim' Purcell ahead of 2013 Great North Run at the age of 92 and his 27th run

Jim 'Jarra Jim' Purcell ahead of 2013 Great North Run at the age of 92 and his 27th run

Jim was presented with the Lifetime Contribution Award during a ceremony held at Boldon Quality Hotel, where he received a standing ovation.

The accolade was for his fundraising efforts over the years after he took up running following his wife Betty’s death in 1986.

Aged 65, he took part in his first running event and never looked back, taking part in the Great North Run - running more than 25 of them in his time - and London Marathons, as well as travelling the country to compete in other half marathons.

Even having an operation to replace both his knees failed to stop him from taking part in his favourite pastime.

There are no word to describe Jim or the loss which is being felt by the people of South Tyneside.

Agnes Fenwick

Over the years he has raised thousands of pounds for Epinay Business School and the Percy Hedley Foundation.

Jim died on Friday following a short stay in hospital, leaving the people of South Tyneside, who took him to their hearts, shocked and devastated.

Mrs Fenwick said: “There are no words to describe Jim or the loss which is being felt by the people of South Tyneside.

“He touched the hearts of so many with his running, and the Great North Run just won’t be the same without him.

“I was lucky enough to be with Jim when he picked up his award at the Best of South Tyneside Awards Night.

“When he went up on the stage, there was a standing ovation.

“It was really overwhelming, but so fitting for a man who has done so much for young children.

“He has left me with some very good memories, like he has a lot of people in South Tyneside.”

Following his death, people took to social media to leave their own tributes and memories of their encounters with ‘Jarra Jim’.

The 96-year-old great-great-grandfather, from Falmouth Drive, Jarrow, who had to complete the run in a wheelchair for the last two years, had been due to take part in the Great North Run again this year.

His place had already been confirmed.