Olympic Gold medal winner and co-founder of the London Marathon Chris Brasher described Joss Naylor as ‘The Greatest of Them All’ when Joss set a new record by running 72 Lake District mountains inside 24 hours.
He went on to say ‘Joss has sinews stronger than any man-made substance and his will is harder than a diamond. I have always believed that he is the toughest runner in Britain, which invariably makes him the toughest runner in the world…’
Joss Naylor’s long list of records and fell running achievements are well documented and the public have been captivated by the romantic image of the ‘fell running shepherd’ who’s spent his whole life in the Wasdale valley working and running on the fells. There is, however, another side to the man, a commitment to using his talents to help others, raising thousands of pounds to help people less fortunate than himself.
In the late 1960’s, almost 20 years before the first London Marathon, Joss and other Cumbrian runners first recognised the potential of running to raise sponsorship for local causes. They took an idea developed in the United States, of circulating sponsor forms to family and friends, to raise funds to develop facilities at Ennerdale Scout Camp. The success of this approach encouraged Joss to take on bigger challenges to support a number of causes, including British Heart Foundation, MS Society, local Mountain Rescue Teams and Eden House Children’s Hospice.
In 2007 when looking for an inspirational Patron for the new Brathay 10in10 challenge (10 marathons in 10 days) there was one name that stood out with legendary status and a commitment to helping others. Joss didn’t hesitate to take up the role with huge enthusiasm and has gone on to support almost 120 runners to complete the challenge, raising over £1million over 12 years. Joss has played a pivotal role in establishing the Brathay 10in10 as one of the UK’s most sought after endurance running challenges.
Joss quickly came to understand the impact of our mission to improve the life chances of children, young people and families by inspiring them to engage positively in their communities. Since 2007 he has generously directed his own fundraising efforts to supporting the young people we work with.
Joss talks about his belief in our approach to helping young people and support for the Brathay 10in10 in this video:
His most recent challenge involved a journey across the fells from his birthplace at Middle Row at Wasdale Head, to Brathay Hall – a route of 30 miles with 6,000ft of climbing….at 82 years of age! Supporters young and old came out on what was the only damp day in June to support Joss and run with him on sections of the route. This latest fundraising appeal has raised almost £4,000 to continue Joss’ support for young people and give some of them the opportunity to experience life-changing residentials in the Lake District.
So what next for the ‘King of the Fells’? When asked this question at a celebratory dinner following his latest ‘grand day out’ in the fells Joss replied ‘I hope to get another 10 years out of these legs’ …so that’ll be many more miles over his beloved Lake District fells well into his 90’s!
Joss appeared on Countryfile on Sunday 22nd July to talk to Matt Baker as the show celebrated it’s 30th anniversary. You can watch him here - https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/... skip to about 5 mins in for Joss.