TRIBUTES have been paid to a charity champion who touched people’s hearts across the North-East.

Jim Purcell, known affectionately as ‘Jarra Jim’. died on Friday morning after a short stay in hospital.

The 96-year-old took up running in 1986, following the death of his wife Betty, and carried the Olympic torch through his home town of Jarrow when it passed through South Tyneside in 2012.

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He raised thousands of pounds for children’s charities, collected a number of medals and trophies in recognition of his charity work, and was snapped with many famous sports men and women.

Brendan Foster, founder of the Great North Run has also paid tribute to one of the event’s best-loved runners.

He said: “Jim truly embodied the spirit of the Great North Run, which celebrates ordinary people doing extraordinary things, I’m sure his legacy will be inspiring runners of all ages for a long time to come.”

Jarrow and Hebburn MP Stephen Hepburn said: “He was a true Jarra legend and an inspiration.”