Wigan war hero to be honoured with a park bench following his nephew's athletic challenge

A Wigan war hero can now be fondly remembered though the latest exploits of his athletic nephew.
Matthew Melling with his uncle HarryMatthew Melling with his uncle Harry
Matthew Melling with his uncle Harry

Matthew Melling, 37, known as the Wigan Runner, ran 101km over a number of consecutive days to help reach his target of £2,000 which will pay for a memorial bench in honour of his uncle Harry.

The former World War Two submariner died last year at the venerable age of 101 - hence the distance Matthew ran.

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The bench, when complete, will be placed in Alexandra Park, with a special area set to be created opposite where he lived on Mitchell Street in Newtown.

Matthew said: “We found a way to make it perfect, so we are really grateful to the council for how they have helped.

“Hopefully it will be ready in either February or March. I really can’t thank everyone enough for their donations, big or small.

“We got a huge donation from We Remember Submariners that took us to the total, but had people helping from Wigan, the UK and around the world.

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“We had ex-submariners and the Navy getting involved, so it’s been fantastic.

“I will invite them all down to see the bench first to thank them.”

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Matthew said it felt special to see people giving money for his uncle, as it showed how much he meant.

“Everyone loved uncle Harry. Someone said at his funeral he was an ‘ordinary extraordinary man,’ which summed him up perfectly.

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“I learnt a lot from him, he was my hero and stood for everything that was right. I try my best to be as much like him as possible as he was a wonderful man.

“The bench means his legacy will live on and the community will be able to sit on it and benefit them. We are working on a special plaque at the moment for it.

“I knew the run would be a big challenge, but I knew I would find a way to do it for him and told everyone before that I could. I was very motivated to do it in his memory.

“The final day was on Remembrance Sunday, so that was really fitting, and I did it with Andrew Sixsmith, who was a good friend of my uncle Harry’s, so we were able to exchange stories.”

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