Friends of an inspirational Moray runner who died suddenly last week have completed a 100-mile fundraiser he organised before his death.
About 100 people pounded paths across the area to raise cash for The Samaritans in memory of former RAF Lossiemouth serviceman Jon Ward.
Donations poured in to support the run with nearly £11,000 being pledged to help the charity, which was chosen by the 34-year-old before his death.
John Anderson, from Elgin, organised the fundraiser with his friend he knew from the Moray Road Runners club.
At the weekend the businessman, who runs the Staging Post pub in Aberdeen, completed the course in memory of Corporal Ward, who retained a home in Lossiemouth after moving to Glasgow earlier this year to work in the armed forces career office.
Mr Anderson said: “When I first heard about Jon I wasn’t going to go through with it, but then I saw all the donations coming in.
“The bottom line for me is that hopefully the money makes a difference and somebody will get the benefit from it.
“The support from everyone at the club was amazing. Jon was a big part of it. Their support really kept me going.”
Mr Ward completed several fundraisers himself to fulfil his running passion – completing 100 marathons in 2018 to mark the centenary of the RAF and running the NE250 tourist trail.
Before his death he planned to run the complete Moray Way circular route, which encompasses Lossiemouth, Fochabers, Aberlour, Grantown and Forres, for the first time.
Mr Anderson completed the course in 20 hours 50 minutes with cyclist Steven Morrison. Dozens of supporters, including former colleagues of Mr Ward, cheered him to the finish line near RAF Lossiemouth shortly before 2am yesterday.
A social media post from the military base praised Mr Ward as an example for others to follow.
Today a group of Cpl Jon Ward’s friends from his RAF & Ultrarunning families are completing the “Jon and John Moray Way” challenge.
— RAF Lossiemouth (@RAFLossiemouth) June 27, 2020
A spokesman said: “Selfless, courageous, kind and genuine – Jon epitomised the values of the RAF at their core.
“He was the first to give back to his community, raising thousands of pounds for the RAF Benevolent Fund.
“He leaves behind a void that cannot be filled. His kindness and compassion will be missed within the RAF family, within the running community and by those who knew him so well in our local communities and further afield.”
If you are struggling and want to talk, Breathing Space is a free, confidential service which can be contacted on 0800 838 587.
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