A remarkable 80-year-old retired village bobby, who started running five years ago, is pounding the beat on lanes of Tyneside to raise funds for Bright Red, a charity for people in the North with blood cancer.
Wilf Laidler from Killingworth has started his mammoth running programme and intends to complete his 80th mile to coincide with his 80th birthday on June 12.
Despite previously having had an active job as a police officer in rural Northumberland, Wilf never considered himself to be a fit person and in 2011, the need for a triple heart bypass, together with his son buying him a fitness tracker, made him look closely at his personal health.
He took up running five years ago, with the Saturday morning Park Run becoming part of his life and his fitness campaign became a hobby.
“I’m running to help Bright Red as they are a local charity and help people who are affected by blood cancer. My wife is in remission and I wanted to do something for my 80th birthday for those who have helped her,” he said.
Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, Bright Red are based at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital and receive no government funding. They rely entirely on fund-raisers such as Wilf to help them with their work. Part of their work is the funding of Haematology Nurse Specialists at the Frirage Hospital in Northallerton, the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital, Sunderland Royal Hospital, Wansbeck General Hospital, North Tyneside General Hospital and at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead. All donations are used exclusively for the benefit of people in the region.
Bright Red’s Manager, Lisa Saxton was delighted at Wilf’s commitment to help the charity:
“Thanks to people like Wilf we are able to fund we fund patient care and education as well as research into illnesses such as leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma myelodysplasia and myeloproliferative diseases. It’s remarkable that someone of Wilf’s age is running so many miles to help us. He’s a fantastic example to us all not only for his fund-raising, but also the fact that it’s never too late to start getting fit and healthy.”