An inspirational north-east runner who raised thousands of pounds for charity to mark the RAF’s centenary has died suddenly just days before a 100-mile race to support The Samaritans.
Jon Ward was a regular attendee at Moray Road Runners and Elgin Park Run – motivating others to keep fit and active.
The 34-year-old completed 100 marathons during 2018 to celebrate the air force’s centenary and in support of the RAF Benevolent Fund and last year ran the entire NE250 route for the same cause.
Earlier this year the former RAF Lossiemouth serviceman, who worked as a logistics mover at the base, moved to Glasgow to continue his military service in the armed forces’ career office.
However, he returned to his home near the Moray base about a month ago and had been running with friends earlier this week before his death on Wednesday.
Corporal Ward, who was originally from Hereford, had intended to complete his first run of the 100-mile Moray Way with a friend today – setting himself the ambitious target of completing it within 24 hours.
Fellow enthusiasts intend to go ahead with the fundraiser and complete the course in his memory.
An online fundraising page set up by Mr Ward before his death has since been flooded with donations to last night bring the total to more than £5,000 for The Samaritans.
Gareth Jenkins, chairman of Moray Road Runners, said: “It’s all come as a complete shock.
“We just resumed runs this week and he was out with us on Monday and Tuesday laughing and joking.
“He was always so supportive of all our members, irrespective of their standard. He was a big part of what we did – he was a top club guy.
“He wanted to do this 100-mile run to challenge himself so we’re going to go ahead with it, with people completing what they can.”
A social media post from Elgin Park Run said members had been “shocked and saddened” by the news.
Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot, controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund, added: “Jon was always thinking of others and did so much to support charities, including the RAF Benevolent Fund.
“His endurance running feats were an indication of his determination to do whatever he could to support his community.
“I am sure he will be greatly missed by all who knew him and we are thankful for all he did to support our charity.”