'˜I don't feel angry': Jarra Jim in forgiving mood after home ransacked for just Â£1.20
The home of South Tyneside charity runner '˜Jarra Jim' has been ransacked by a burglar.
Jim Purcell - the 95-year-old multiple Great North runner and Olympic torch bearer - found he had been burgled when he returned from church on Sunday - but still found it in him to have some sympathy for the raider.
He said: “Whoever it was must have been high on drugs or desperate for money. They even took the £1.20 in loose change from the tin pot off the coffee table.
“I don’t feel angry. I might be able to help whoever has done this. They may be someone who has just lost their way.
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He added: “I have a family of my own and I’d hate for that person to be on their own in such a desperate state.”
Jim, who has taken part in the Great North Run for the past 28 years and raised thousands of pounds for charity told how he returned from church to find three police cars in Falmouth Drive, Jarrow.
He even gave the officers a ‘thumbs up’ when he passed unaware it was his house which had been raided.
The burglar escaped with a safe containing insurance documents, sentimental papers and loose change from a little tin pot he keeps on his coffee table.
The safe was later recovered by police smashed in a neighbouring street. The papers were also found and handed back to Jim.
Jim has lived in the house since 1948.
Despite Jim’s understanding, people have taken to social media networking sites to express their disgust towards the intruder.
Jarra Jim became a South Tyneside icon after taking up running following the death of his wife Betty in 1986.
Even having two knee replacements did not prevent the great-grandfather from taking part in the Great North Run.
Over the years he has collected a number of medals, photos with sporting celebrities and trophies in recognition of his charity work.
Through his running he has raised thousands of pounds for the Percy Hedley Foundation and Epinay Business and Enterprise School - both supporting young people with disabilities.
He added: “I had been to church and when I came round the corner I noticed the upstairs lights on.
“I just thought ‘I can’t remember leaving them on’, then I saw the police outside and I just gave them the thumbs up. I didn’t know I’d been burgled.
“It’s a horrible thing to have happened and it would be easy to not think about the nice things.
“But I have been really lucky and there are a lot more nice people out there who I have had the privilege to meet.
“Everywhere I go people stop and want to speak to me and that’s what makes me happy.
“If I can make people happy, then I am happy.”
Police confirmed officers were called to an address in Falmouth Drive, Jarrow, following reports of a burglary on Sunday.
A spokesman said: “Police were called to a house in Falmouth Drive after reports of a burglary between 4.05pm and 5pm on Sunday January 17.
“A 39-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of burglary and is currently in police custody helping with inquiries.”