Serial fundraiser Pat Ainsworth reckoned last year’s 5k Race for Life in Greenhead Park would probably be her last.

But the 78-year-old had a change of heart, has just done this one and ended up being the top individual fundraiser, bringing in £1,300 for Cancer Research UK.

Pat, of Emley, said: “I decided I wanted to carry on taking part and managed to get round OK on a very hot day which did make it more difficult. I managed to raise £1,300 and it was announced at the race that I was their top fundraiser with money raised by an individual which I was delighted with.”

The phenomenal fundraiser started doing marathons and other runs – including five major overseas expeditions – in her late 40s to raise money for several charities. When she realised she’d raised more than £200,000 for charity she stopped counting  … and that was several years ago.

When she did the 5k Race for Life in Greenhead Park last June she revealed it may be her last charity fundraiser as she’d turned 77.

Pat said: “I was kind of interested in running in my late 40s and had kept fit jogging but I was probably a bit of a couch potato if truth be told.

“It all changed when I watched the New York Marathon and saw a man running with one leg. I thought that if he can do it with one leg then surely I can do it with two.

“So I applied for the London Marathon in 1994, was accepted, did the run and found it a life-changing moment. The sense of camaraderie, the help the runners gave one another was amazing.”



Pat did the first one in around four hours and since then has done a further 20 London Marathons, the New York Marathon, the Great North Run and countless half marathons, 10k and 5k races.

The main charity to benefit has been Cancer Research UK as Pat has lost relatives and friends to the disease. Other charities have included Marie Curie, Kirkwood Hospice, the Deaf Children’s Society and her first London Marathon was for the neonatal unit at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary towards buying a special incubator.

She has done five 100km treks overseas – the Himalayas, the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Abel Tasman Way in New Zealand and one in Japan which included scaling Mount Fuji.

“They were all rough camping, sometimes in -15°C temperatures and no facilities like toilets,” she said. “They were tough going but absolutely amazing experiences.”

She did all these overseas expeditions, a London Marathon and the New York Marathon with husband Jim (below).

The couple have been married for 55 years and he’s been there to support Pat on her other London Marathons, always standing at the same spot on the Mall and yelling ‘Run Forrest, Run’ when she comes past after the famous film Forrest Gump starring Tom Hanks.

“When I heard him shouting I always tried to inject a bit more pace,” said Pat.



Pat worked as a personal assistant at Fox’s Biscuits in Batley for 30 years and then became a personal assistant to the education manager at New Hall Prison in Flockton.

The inmates were allowed to do Race for Life in the grounds and Pat has joined them as a motivator for several years.

Pat was chosen as one of the torch bearers for the 2012 London Olympics when it toured the country and took it behind the prison gates. The women had made flags and banners and cheered Pat as she ran round inside with it.

The Prison Service has a charity fund which staff pay into and then it provides sponsorship and funds to help charities that staff are fundraising for and this has provided Pat with lots of sponsorship over the years. The charity fund gave Pat a gold award for all her fundraising – only the second time it has given such a high accolade.

The BBC filmed Pat nine years ago as part of a project called Get Inspired to attract more older people into being fit and active and you can still watch it here at

Jim, also 78, who was the general service manager at Sanderson Ford car and lorry dealership in Batley for many years, said: “I hope what Pat has done will inspire people in their 40s and 50s to take up exercise which will be beneficial to charities. I’m so proud of all she’s achieved over the years.”

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.