Wigan runner takes on 101km challenge in memory of his uncle

Matthew Melling, known as the Wigan Runner, was devastated when his uncle Harry Melling died on September 19 at the age of 101.

He had been the oldest surviving submariner of WWII and was also known to have run the Melling shoe store in Newtown and have been a keeper of St. Mark’s Church.

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Harry and Matthew Melling

Now Matthew wants to create a permanent memorial in a place in Wigan that was special to his uncle.

He said: “Harry enjoyed both walking around and sitting on a bench in Alexandra Park every day across from his home in Newtown, chatting and befriending just about everyone he met. .

“So I decided to find a way to buy a special park bench right there at Alexandra Park in memory of Harry so that others could sit and enjoy, just like he did. All donations received will be used to fund this special memorial in memory of Harry. “

Matthew asks people to sponsor him as he takes on a fundraising challenge in honor of Harry.

From November 5, he plans to run 10 km each day until Remembrance Sunday, November 14, where he will finish with an 11 km run.

The total distance will be 101 km, with each kilometer representing one year of Harry’s life.

Matthew said: “This park bench will ensure that even though Uncle Harry’s flame is extinguished, his legacy will live on forever.”

Harry served his country from 1939 to 1945, before returning to Wigan to work as a shoemaker.

He married his wife Gladys, who died about 20 years ago, and although he had no children, he was close to his nieces and nephews.

Harry was already known to a lot of people, but the Wiganers really took him to their hearts after being targeted by a callous thief four years ago.

This led the veterans community to ensure that his wartime efforts were recognized and he was invited to many prestigious events, even meeting the Duke of Cambridge.

Harry celebrated his 101st birthday in April at the Alexandra Grange nursing home in Newtown, where more than 500 cards were sent to mark the milestone.

Matthew said: “He was an incredible man, loved by everyone he met because of his character, his integrity, his honesty, his ability to make people laugh with his outspoken sense of humor. and because he defined the word gentleman. “

Donations for the purchase of a bench can be made at www.gofundme.com/f/a-park-bench-in-memory-of-harry-melling

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