A County Durham man who has completed some incredible runs for charitable causes has been awarded The Chairman’s Medal, the county’s highest honour.
Paul Smith’s running exploits have included running from York Minster to Durham Cathedral on St Cuthbert’s Day and doing a one-day run taking in all the north east’s main football grounds.
Paul, from Easington Village, began running in the 1980s and he still regularly competes for Crook Athletics Club.
In 2007, he made a New Year resolution to run every day – a resolution he has so far kept, clocking up 4,488 consecutive days and counting.
Some of the many sponsored runs Paul has completed for charity include:
- Running 30 miles around the centre circle of the pitch of Consett AFC to raise money for bowel cancer charity The Bobby Moore Fund and The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. For this run, Paul dressed as England’s 1966 World Cup captain Bobby Moore.
- Running from York Minster to Durham Cathedral on St Cuthbert’s Day – dressed as St Cuthbert. This run raised money for Cuthbert’s Hospice.
- Doing a 67-mile run through County Durham – visiting 100 war memorials – on Armistice Day 2014
- Running from the Seaham Tommy Statue to the DLI soldier statue in Durham Market Place to raise money for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal and Help for Heroes. Paul did this run wearing his father’s old Royal Artillery Uniform and parade shoes.
- Doing a run visiting all the north east’s main football grounds, starting at St James’s Park before heading to The Stadium of Light then visiting Hartlepool’s Victoria Park and Middlesbrough’s Riverside Ground. Paul ended the run – which raised money for the Finley Cooper Trust – by running back to Victoria Park, making it in time for the 3.00 pm kick off to watch his beloved Hartlepool United.
- Marking his 4,000th consecutive day of running by doing 40 miles around Durham Cricket Ground, raising cash for The Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK.
In addition to the above, Paul has completed 37 full marathons and 427 Parkruns. He volunteers as a steward at weekly Parkruns and has chaperoned celebrities – such as Frank Bruno and Olly Murs – in The Great North Run.
Paul also pays regular visits to the care home where both his parents live, entertaining the residents by dressing up as characters such as St George, St Patrick, Rabbie Burns and Santa while handing out gifts.
Paul received his medal from the chairman of Durham County Council, Cllr John Lethbridge, at a ceremony attended by his wife Susan, son Joseph, daughter-in-law Sarah, sister Janet and brother-in-law Joh.
Paul said, “I’m honoured, humbled and proud to receive such a prestigious award as The Chairman’s Medal. If I can put smiles on people’s faces and raise a few quid for charities and worthy causes then I’m happy.”
Cllr Lethbridge said, “Paul has been selflessly using his athleticism to raise money for worthy causes for many years.”
“He is a very dedicated, caring and inspirational man who deserves The Chairman’s Medal.”
(The featured image shows Paul Smith receiving The Chairman’s Medal from Cllr Lethbridge.)