Jim Rhodes Tribute
Tributes have poured in for local running “legend”, darts official and well-known charity fundraiser Jim Rhodes who has died aged 78.
The much-loved Radcliffe AC member was a prolific runner who inspired countless others over the generations with his knowledge, encouragement and enthusiasm.
Fellow runners have described the great-grandfather as a “true gentleman” who made everyone he met feel special.
He also raised more than £100,000 for charity, including £70,000 for St Ann’s Hospice in Little Hulton.
Jim died at his home in Radcliffe and is survived by his sons Jimmy, Steven and Darren, daughter-in-law Janet, grandchildren David and Stephanie and great-grandchildren Olivia, Isabella, Jessica and Alex.
Radcliffe AC chairman Chris Paxton said: “The term ‘legend’ is often over-used; however, in this instance, I can think of no better description. Jim’s passion for running, raising money for charity and for supporting others was truly legendary.
“He also loved to see young runners coming through which is why the club introduced the Jim Rhodes Junior Races last year. It was great to see his beaming smile as he handed out the medals to the juniors taking part.
“We will miss Jim greatly and our thoughts are with his family.”
Jim joined Radcliffe Harriers aged 11. After becoming a Lancashire Junior Champion at 17, he was asked to pace some of the country’s top runners at a mile invitational.
He then joined Bolton Harriers in the 1960s where his teammates and friends included legendary marathon runner Ron Hill and former 10,000m British record holder Mike Freary.
Jim later ran for Northern Veterans Athletics Club before becoming a long-standing member of Radcliffe AC.
He continued running at a good standard into his 70s and in 2017 he was the over-75s champion in the Central Lancashire Grand Prix, a series of ten races. He also met Olympic and World champion Haile Gebrselassie at the Great Manchester Run in 2013.
But Jim was also well known for supporting runners from all clubs in races, cheering them in no matter what the weather and remembering their names.
Away from running, Jim was a young amateur boxer. He was a long-standing official of Lancashire Darts Association and 1969 he competed at the Manchester qualifying round of the News of the Word Darts Championship, the major darts competition of the time.
He organised numerous charity races, many in memory of his beloved late wife Joan, and charity darts events. Those who supported him included top darts players Lisa Ashton, Dennis Priestley, Kevin Painter and Steve Coote.
Friend and former Bolton Evening News photographer Richard Rollon covered many of Jim’s events over the last 39 years.
He said: “Jim was always so pleased to welcome me along to help him publicise his incredible fundraising efforts.
“He was loved and respected by so many people who were only too willing to support his fundraising efforts.
“Jim will fondly be remembered as a true gent, a remarkable man and an inspiration too many. He truly was one in a million and will be sadly missed by his family, friends, the running community and the world of darts.”
Radcliffe councillor Rishi Shori, leader of Bury Council, was among those who knew Jim.
He said: “I’m terribly sad that Jim has passed away, he was loved by people in Radcliffe. He was a real force of nature – a stalwart of the community and passionate about sport, who inspired countless athletes over generations with his enthusiasm and knowledge.
“He was also a very caring man, who raised many thousands of pounds for charity and specifically St Ann’s Hospice. There are very few like Jim, and we’ll all really miss him. My thoughts go to his family at this difficult time.”
Other local running clubs have also paid tribute to Jim. Swinton Running Club said: “So very sad to hear about Jim passing away. What a true gentleman. He will be missed so much by everyone in the running community and beyond.”
Ramsbottom Running Club added: “Sending love and condolences to all of our friends at Radcliffe AC for the incredibly sad loss of a local running hero.”