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Farewell to fundraising legend Paul Freedman
Legendary marathon runner and fundraiser Paul Freedman has died aged 92.
Paul died peacefully at King George Hospital in Goodmayes on Saturday (February 4) after losing his battle with cancer.
His funeral was held at Waltham Abbey Jewish Cemetery on Monday (February 6) and his family and friends came together to celebrate his incredible life.
Our video tribute to Paul, using our photos and archive material.
Paul, who leaves behind his partner Ellen, son Martin and grandson Samuel, quickly became a local and national celebrity after he took up running at 61 and ran his first London Marathon aged 69 - hitting the headlines in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015 when he was the oldest official runner.
A member of Havering 90 Joggers, Paul went on to complete 24 marathons - 18 of which were to support Saint Francis Hospice.
L-R: Paul in a past London Marathon, Paul in his 'officially the oldest London Marathon runner' t-shirt.
Paying tribute to Paul, Pam Court, Chief Executive of the hospice in Havering-atte-Bower, said, "Our thoughts are with Paul's family at this sad time.
"While Paul is no longer with us, his legacy will live on. He was the most incredible ambassador for the hospice and he was a great inspiration to everyone who met him.
"We are so proud and privileged to have known Paul and will always be grateful for all he has done to raise awareness of our services, as well as raising more than £100,000 to fund our care."
His charismatic personality, determination and kindness inspired everyone who met him and he was well known in the community for collecting money for the charity outside supermarkets.
L-R: Paul at one of his many street collections for the hospice. Paul with Pam Court on marathon day.
Paul, from Hornchurch, injected humour into everything he did and cheekily claimed that his top marathon tip was to "follow a nice bum."
And he lived by his motto "keep moving, do as much charity work as you can and have a sense of humour."
Saint Francis Hospice was close to his heart after it cared for his wife Teeny before she died of cancer in 2007 but his connection with the charity began in 1993, when Paul, who was an active member of the Jewish community, and his friends started volunteering on the Inpatient Ward every Christmas Day, serving food and drinks to patients.
Gill Wendelken, the Voluntary Services Manager at the hospice, said, "Paul not only provided, for many years, invaluable practical support to the patients, but he also included within that a very generous helping of wit and humour, wrapped up in his friendly personality, in order to give the hospice patients a special time on Christmas Day."
Over the years Paul's fundraising achievements attracted so much media attention and recognition that he dedicated an entire room to his medals, awards and press cuttings. Paul was proud to be awarded and MBE in 2008 in the New Year's Honours, was an Olympic torchbearer in 2012 and in 2016 he was presented with an award by 007 star Sir Roger Moore.
Paul with Sir Roger Moore
And another memorable moment for the devoted Hammers fan was training with the West Ham team before his last marathon in 2015.
Paul, who worked in retail and at one time was a buyer for Bodgers in Ilford, was a natural comedian so it was very fitting that he founded a concert party, The Entertainers, which has been holding performances to raise money for the hospice since 1991.
Clare McPartland, Head of Marketing and Communications at the hospice, added, "The publicity Paul gave the hospice was unrivalled and his attitude was always one of positivity and drive - he was an absolute joy to work with.
"This year will be my first London Marathon and he will certainly be on my mind as I tackle the 26.2 miles - he's a true inspiration and I know he'd be cheering me on from the crowd!"
Paul being interviewed at the start of the London Marathon
Some of Paul's highlights...
- Paul was awarded an MBE in 2008 in the New Year Honours.
- In 2011 Paul was excited to be the oldest official London Marathon runner for the first time. He ran into the Daybreak studio (now known as Good Morning Britain) to be interviewed the morning after running the iconic 26.2 mile course.
- He was one of the Olympic torchbearers in 2012.
- In 2013 he appeared on BBC Breakfast to talk about his running and fundraising for the hospice.
- In 2014 he received one of the Halifax Giving Extra awards for his community and charity work and he also made an appearance on The One Show.
- In 2015 he ran his 24th and final London Marathon - and was the oldest runner for the fourth time - attracting huge publicity nationally and locally with appearances on Sky Sports and Radio 5 Live. This was the year the Hammers fan jogged around the club's former ground in his Oldest Marathon Runner t-shirt and even shared some of his favourite jokes with the team!
- In April 2016 Paul received the Mayor of Havering's Civic Award for Meritorious Service to the Community.
- He has also completed 172 half marathons - no mean feat!