Fond farewells were said to one of South Tyneside’s favourite sons as ‘Jarra’ Jim Purcell was laid to rest.
Hundreds of mourners attended St Bede’s Catholic Church, in Jarrow, for the funeral of the much-loved charity champion.
Jim, who famously took part in every Great North Run between 1982 and 2017, died aged 96 last month after a short stay in hospital.
He raised thousands of pounds for children’s charities with his incredible efforts over the decades, having taken up running in his 60s after the death of his wife Betty.
The dad-of-five, who has 17 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, was also a Dunkirk veteran.
His funeral service was led by Father Adrian Dixon, who read out a tribute from Jim’s family, including touching recollections of how he met wife Betty and became so heavily involved in running after her tragic death.
Father Dixon then gave his own tribute on behalf of those present.
He said: “In his own way, Jim was truly inspiring to people. He showed astonishing resolve and, like so many others, he ran for charity.
“He has been an ambassador for the idea that any of us can achieve amazing things. It doesn’t matter when you start – there are no age limits.
“Jim has been a shining example to us all. He will be sorely missed by his family and all others who found him an inspiration.”
Jim’s coffin entered the church while one of his favourite songs, Welcome to my World, was played.
Collections were held for Epinay School, in Jarrow, and Percy Hedley School, in Newcastle – two schools Jim supported during his life.
Epinay gave their own tribute to one of their greatest supporters.
Dianne Mountain, the school’s business development manager, said “Jim had been friend of the school for many years and I was lucky to have first met him when I started working at the school and we became friends.
“When Jim was chosen to carry the Olympic torch in 2012, he brought the torch into school, as he wanted to share this experience with all our pupils, who were excited to see, hold and have their picture taken with the torch.
“Jim has left a legacy behind him – he was a gentleman, a generous man and our local hero.”