Farewell to ‘the running lady’ of Whitby as Ann bows out at 80

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One of Whitby’s best loved characters has died aged 80 after a short illness.

Ann Clarkson will be known to hundreds of people around Whitby, and visitors who recognised her year after year, as ‘the running lady’.

She would cover up to 30 miles in a day and would say the further she went, the better she felt.

Ann, who lived on Stakesby Road with husband Jack, would be up early, do the housework and then after breakfast come rain or shine be trekking across the roads and fields to Ruswarp, Sleights and beyond as well as to Sandsend and back.

When she got home she would prepare dinner, pop into town and after tea would be off out again ‘around the block’ which was Stakesby Road, Love Lane and Upgang Lane...twice. Devastated husband Jack told the Gazette that he got Ann into running in her late forties because it was a “quicker way to get to where they needed to be”, but as it became a way of life for her “she left me behind”.

He remembers one time they had set off from home on a murky and damp Saturday morning and he was wearing a fur lined jacket but by the time he got to Newholm he was puffing and sweating so said they should cut down Carr Hill Lane instead of going via Aislaby.

Ann was about 100 yards in front and vanished into the mist. Jack got a lift and let Ann run on but by the time he got home he realised he didn’t have the house key so decided to sit in the car and wait.

He said: “I read a magazine while I waited for her to come in but it didn’t happen and set off to see if I could find her. Turned out she had got back and had been in the house the whole time and had a bath while I was sat in the car.”

During the years and miles that she covered, Ann became a familiar face in Whitby life. Regular visitors used to stop their cars and introduce their children to Ann after remembering seeing her en route as kids themselves and in turn their children would carry on the tradition too.

Jack said: “If you had run 20 or 30 miles you would come in and sit down but not Ann. She said the further she went, the better she felt. She liked the fresh air and loved the trees and greenery.” Ann was born and bred in Whitby and was one of six children. She grew up on Henrietta Street and lived at Marker House which is now used for rowing lines.

After leaving school she worked for Botham’s icing the cakes and became manageress in the Skinner Street shop. In later life and until retirement at the age of 66 she worked as deputy and warden at West Thorpe Residential Home.

She had married Jack in 1956 after becoming friends when they were 12 at Monday night dance classes. Only Jack’s spell in the military kept them apart and they enjoyed teenage years dancing at the Royal Hotel and big band venues in Scarborough and Stockton.

Ann loved Whitby and would spend hours with friends recalling Boots Corner, the old parts of Henrietta Street and the characters. Jack said: “Ann had a special magnetism with her radiant smile and big blue eyes which said it all.”

The funeral is on Monday, 11am at the RC Church on Brunswick Street.