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Bill Cooksey: Tribute to oldest person to finish the Great North Run

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Bill Cooksey at the start of the Great North Run

In September Bill Cooksey, 102, completed the Great North Run

An RAF veteran who became the oldest person to complete the Great North Run at 102-years-old, has died.

Bill Cooksey walked the half marathon route from Newcastle to South Shields, accompanied by two friends.

The centenarian, from Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, raised almost £2,000 to support his local NHS Trust charity.

“Bill inspired and touched so many lives, and he will be fondly remembered,” the organisers of the Great North Run said in a tribute.

Mr Cooksey, who was born in Wales, died on Wednesday morning.

Bill crossing the finish line with two friends

Mr Cooksey crossing the rain-soaked finish line in South Shields

In the lead up to September’s Great North Run he told the BBC he had enjoyed walking since his retirement in 1980 and walked about two miles a day to keep fit.

“I hope it will encourage other people to try the same thing,” he told our reporter at the time.

He was given a special Great North Run number – 102 – signed by the half marathon’s founder Sir Brendan Foster.

Bill's 102 running number, signed by Brendan Foster

The centenarian worse a specially selected number featuring his age

Due to his age, Mr Cooksey was accompanied by his friend Gavin Hasting and Sue Jacques, the chief executive of County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust.

The retired teacher had previously set himself a challenge of walking 100 miles (161km) when he turned 100 years old, trekking 10 miles a day for 10 days along the Locomotion Way between Newton Aycliffe and Shildon stations.

Not stopping there, he clocked up 1,000 miles (1,609km) on his tricycle to celebrate his 101st birthday.

Mr Cooksey, Sue Jacques and Gavin Hasting

Mr Cooksey was supported by Sue Jacques and Gavin Hasting

He walked 12 miles (19km) between Seaton Carew and Hartlepool to test his fitness in terms of being able to do the 13.1 mile (21km) course.

The father-of-three encouraged everybody to walk at least two miles a day and completed all the long-distance paths in Northern England.

Bill Cooksey

Bill Cooksey was born in Wales and was a retired teacher

He said he put his good health down to keeping active, as well as a good diet and lifestyle.

“The only thing I regret is having to give up dancing. I think that’s another secret to good health,” he said.

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