It’s a smile to make a 13-mile trek worth the while.
These heart-warming pictures show the moment South Tyneside running legend Jarra Jim was helped across the Great North Run finish line.
The 94-year-old, whose real name is Jim Purcell, was almost forced to drop out of Sunday’s half marathon due to problems with his legs.
But Morrisons workers Gordon Williams and Chris McStea heroically stepped in to help him round the 13.1-mile route from Newcastle to South Shields.
Jim, a Dunkirk veteran from Falmouth Drive, Jarrow, was heartbroken when he thought he’d be unable to do the run.
But after a visit to the new event sponsor’s store in Jarrow, the lads agreed to help him out.
Everyone was shouting and cheering for Jim and for us – it was fantastic and that really kept us going.Gordon Williams, Morrisons Jarrow
They pushed Jim around the course in a wheelchair, swapping over every mile, and helping him up on his feet to walk across the finish line just 2 hours and 48 minutes after setting off.
Dad-of-one Gordon, from Hebburn, said: “Jim is a regular customer and I was happy to help him out. I’ve done the run once before.
“It was hard with the heat, but we kept swapping every mile, taking turns to push him, and the support was amazing. Everyone was shouting and cheering for Jim and for us – it was fantastic and that really kept us going.
“Jim has been doing the run for years and it was fantastic to be able to help him do it again this year. Everyone was patting our backs as we went past, and it was a real honour to be able to help him out.”
The 31-year-old duty manager ran, along with others, for heart muscle charity Cardiomyopathy UK, helping to raise around £1,200.
Butcher Chris, 32, of Hebburn, took on his first Great North Run for the Percy Hedley Foundation, which supports disabled adults and children, raising £350.
His son Benjamin, nine, attends the Percy Hedley School, in Newcastle.
He said: “I bumped into Gordon at work and said I’d heard he was helping Jim and he said I could do it with him if I wanted.
“It was brilliant. Everyone was shouting for us and for Jim and spurring us on.
“It was amazing to help Jim do the run and a real honour. You can see from the pictures how happy he was and that smile made the 13 miles all worth it.”
Jim has taken part in the event for the past 27 years after taking up running after his wife Betty died in 1986.
Even having two knee replacements did not prevent the great-grandfather from taking part in the event.
Jim, who was raising money this year for Epinay Business and Enterprise School in Jarrow and the Percy Hedley Foundation, said: “It was fantastic and they ran a lot faster than I thought they would.
“It was just brilliant and the lads loved it as well. From the Tyne Bridge to South Shields, I got more cheers than Mo Farah.
“I told them to stop at the halfway point and I introduced them to Tanni Grey-Thompson, and they loved that as well.
“I’m so proud of the lads and I really want to thank them. I couldn’t have done it without them.
“They said they enjoyed the run so much that they’re going to do it again next year, and that’s my reward.”