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