A devoted athlete whose regular runs have raised thousands of pounds for charity has been awarded County Durham’s highest honour.
Durham County Council Chairman, Cllr John Lethbridge, presented a Chairman’s Medal to Easington Village born and bred Paul Smith, for his many years of charity work and his dedication to athletics.
Paul took up running as a hobby in the 1980s. In 2007, he pledged to run every day as a New Year’s resolution, a promise that has seen him complete 4,488 consecutive running days and counting.
Although Paul is a committed runner, competing for Crook Athletics Club, he also uses his hobby to raise funds for worthy causes, setting himself sponsored challenges such as:
- A 30-mile run around the centre circle of a football pitch at Consett AFC in support the Bobby Moore Fund tackling bowel cancer and Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, a challenge Paul completed dressed as England’s 1966 World Cup England captain Bobby Moore.
- Running on St Cuthbert’s Day from York Minster to Durham Cathedral dressed as St Cuthbert, in support of Cuthbert’s Hospice.
- Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, by running 67 miles, visiting 100 war memorials throughout County Durham, on Armistice Day 2014. The following year, running from Seaham’s Tommy Statue to the DLI soldier statue in Durham Market Place wearing his father’s old Royal Artillery uniform and parade shoes, with proceeds donated to Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal and Help for Heroes.
- Supporting the Finley Cooper Trust with a sponsored run taking in all of the North East’s main football grounds, starting at Newcastle United’s St James Park, onto Sunderland’s Stadium Of Light, Hartlepool’s Victoria Park and Middlesbrough’s Riverside Ground before turning around to make it back in time for a 3pm kick off to watch his beloved Hartlepool United in action.
- Celebrating his 4,000th day of running by completing 40 miles around Durham County Cricket Ground, raising funds for The Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK.
As well as having completed 427 Parkruns and 37 full marathons, Paul also volunteers as a steward at weekly Parkruns and has chaperoned celebrities, including Frank Bruno and more recently Olly Murs, in The Great North Run.
When he isn’t running, Paul visits the residential home where both his parents live, to entertain the residents in various guises, such as Rabbie Burns, St Patrick, St George and Santa, handing out presents to residents.
Paul was joined by very supportive family members, wife Susan, son Joseph and daughter-in- law, Sarah, sister Janet and brother-in-law, John.
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 worthy causes and charities, 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.”