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PICTURES: Run for James set to become annual legacy of much-loved Easter Ross jogging club member after poignant event unites friends the length of the country

By Hector MacKenzie

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Runners in Ardross paid therir own special tribute.
Runners in Ardross paid therir own special tribute.

RUNNERS the length and breadth of the country stepped out at the weekend to pay a touching tribute to an Easter Ross man whose death at just 54 shocked and saddened his many friends.

James Birtles was described by one friend as "the cheeriest, smiliest and most supportive chap you could hope to have running beside you", a man "full of encouragement and always with lots of craic and laughter".

The death last month of Ardross-based Mr Birtles had already prompted an impromptu tribute relay run to benefit Chest Heart Stroke Scotland (CHSS), a charity he had supported for many years.

Members of the Alness jogscotland group last weekend staged a Run for James to celebrate his life and his love of running, at the same time raising a total of almost £2000 for the same charity.

Socially distanced runs across Easter Ross so groups setting out in Evanton, Alness, Invergordon and Ardross.

Poignantly, there were also well-wishers running at the at the same time in Caithness, Grantham in Lincolnshire, Hyde Park in London and all the way down in Cornwall.

One of the group's injured runners, Annie, was so determined to be part of it she took to her bike.

Group member Ros Jemmett said: "We hope to make our Run for James an annual fun and social event, bringing the running community together the way James did."

James passed away at his home in Ardross in October , aged 54.

He was described as "a very much-loved son, brother, uncle and a good friend to many".

Related: Pictures: Alness running group plans tribute to member whose death shocks the community

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