THE fell running community, and Clayton-le-Moors Harriers in particular, are mourning the death of Stan Bradshaw.

He died peacefully at home, a month short of his 98th birthday.

One of the sport’s legends, Joss Naylor, once said: “Give Stanley Bradshaw a knighthood. He keeps us all going and must be one of the greatest sportsmen ever.”

Stan was the eldest member of the Fell Running Association (FRA) and therefore officially the oldest fell runner in the world, running his first race at Rivington Pike in 1930.

After serving in the war, he helped to re-form Clayton-le-Moors Harriers and was club president from 1959-1980 as well as serving on the FRA Committee for six years.

He turned to athletics in the late 1920s after his football career with Padiham FC was cut short by injury. In fact, he came from a footballing family and was named after Accrington Stanley, the club his father Ernest played for.

Two of his brothers also played league football, with Harold turning out for Burnley and William winning four England caps between 1910 and 1913 as a Blackburn Rovers player.

Bradshaw finished second in the inaugural Three Peaks Race in 1954.

His daughter Carol believes that he was the last survivor from that first race. He took part 24 times and only two years ago went back as a spectator with his good friend John Haworth when the race incorporated the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championship.

Clayton club president Dave Scott recalled how Stan recruited him as a 15-year-old, and then in 1965 ran most of the distance with him in his first Peaks. Thus inspired, Scott has gone on to complete a record 42 times, and will pick up a unique award for the feat at this year’s event.

As well as the Three Peaks, Stan will also be forever associated with the Bob Graham Round, a 72-mile tour of 42 Lakeland Peaks that must be completed in 24 hours.

He was the second man to break the 24-hour record in 1960 following club-mate Alan Heaton and 17 years later made a successful attempt at the age of 65, a record which stood for 21 years when it was beaten by another Clayton man, 66-year-old Brian Leathley.

Every year from 1930 until 1992, except during the war, he celebrated his birthday by walking from his home in Padiham to Morecambe over the Nick O’Pendle and Waddington Fell, and through the Trough of Bowland.

He would usually start at around 4am and would sometimes stretch the 36 miles to 40 by starting from Burnley.

His wife Ida celebrated her 95th birthday in January, and Stan also leaves his daughter and son-in-law, Carol and Andrew Lee, and granddaughter Suzanna.

His funeral is being held today at Burnley Crematorium at 1.40pm and there will be a celebration of his life afterwards at the Higher Trapp Hotel.

Among the speakers will be Ron Hill, George Kirby, John Richardson of the Rucksack Club and Fred Rogerson from the Bob Graham Club.

Also expected to attend will be long-standing Clayton member Bill Smith, who wrote an appreciation of Stan in the Fellrunner magazine when he turned 90.

I am grateful to Bill for his substantial contribution to this article.

John Haworth, the organiser of the celebration, said. “I am still trying to repay a debt to Stan. It has been a treat and a privilege to know him.”