Paul Freed­man

Marathon Man who over­came heart at­tack to con­tinue run­ning in his 80s

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

HE RAN his first marathon at the age of 69, but my fa­ther Paul Freed­man, who has died aged 93, went on to run 24 Lon­don Marathons and 172 half marathons, rais­ing over £100,000 for Romford’s Saint Fran­cis Hospice. He started run­ning at the age of 62, com­plet­ing his first half-marathon later that year. A founder mem­ber of the Haver­ing jog­gers, he ran reg­u­larly with them well into his 80s.

Paul was the fifth of seven chil­dren born to Sarah and Max Freed­man, who worked in tai­lor­ing. From Red­man’s Road pri­mary school he won a schol­ar­ship at the age of 11 to the Davenant Foun­da­tion School in Whitechapel.

At the age of 12, he joined the Jewish Lads Bri­gade and was a cadet in the Army Train­ing Corps. Dur­ing the war, he joined the Royal Air Force, and was sent to Karachi, where he re­paired Spit­fires. There, a pas­sion for en­ter­tain­ing saw him writ­ing and pro­duc­ing shows.

After he was de­mobbed, his fam­ily moved to Ching­ford, where he joined Highams Park Sy­n­a­gogue and be­came a youth club leader. There he met his fu­ture wife Renée Roberts, known as Teeny, whom he mar­ried in Jan­uary, 1951. They moved to Hornchurch in 1959 and were happily mar­ried for 56 years.

At Elm Park Sy­n­a­gogue, he be­came trea­surer of the func­tions com­mit­tee and formed the Elm Park All Stars, a fundrais­ing band.

A shop owner and mar­ket trader for 18 years with his brother Phil, he later worked as a buyer in an Il­ford store un­til he re­tired and be­came Hon­orary Pres­i­dent of the Jewish Blind So­ci­ety.

A week be­fore he re­tired, he ad­ver­tised for vol­un­teers to en­ter­tain the sick and el­derly and raise money for char­ity.

The over­whelm­ing re­sponse re­sulted in The En­ter­tain­ers, a group that has per­formed more than 760 shows, rais­ing a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of the money for St Fran­cis Hospice, where he vol­un­teered ev­ery Christ­mas day, rais­ing money through his many spon­sor­ships. In ad­di­tion, he raised money for AJEX and con­tin­ued run­ning marathons and half-marathons, in four of which he was the old­est run­ner, de­spite suf­fer­ing a heart at­tack at the age of 79.

In 2008, he re­ceived an MBE. His many plau­dits in­cluded a gar­den party at Buck­ing­ham Palace, and the Free­dom of the City of Lon­don in 1998. He and Renée were also hon­orary pres­i­dents of the Jewish Blind So­ci­ety.

A man with a great sense of hu­mour, his Lon­don marathons made him a lo­cal me­dia celebrity. Last sum­mer he was fea­tured in 100 Year Old Driv­ers and ap­peared on BBC Break­fast and ITV Break­fast, The One show and The Chris Evans Show. In 2012, he was a torch bearer for the Lon­don Olympics. Renée pre­de­ceased him in 2007. He is sur­vived by my­self, my wife Ly­dia, his grand­son Sa­muel, sis­ter Ella, and his long term part­ner Ellen.


Paul Freed­man: born De­cem­ber 15, 1924. Died Fe­bru­ary 4, 2017

Paul Freed­man: en­ergy and zeal

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