Four-minute mile pacemaker dies

An Army veteran who was a pacemaker for four-minute mile runner Roger Bannister has died at the age of 80.

Tony Lowe trained with the legendary athlete who became the first person ever to run a mile in under four minutes in 1954.

Tony, of Lostock Hall, was one of the top cross-country runners in an athletics team in the Parachute Regiment, which he served with for more than 20 years.

He joined the Army in 1946 after a tough childhood which saw him orphaned as a baby and running away to join the circus aged 14.

As a corporal with 1 Para, Tony served in Italy on post-World War II operations in Cyprus, tackling Greek Cypriot terror group EOKA, and in the Suez crisis in 1956 when Tony was part of the only British parachute attack since the Second World War.

He married Gracie who he had met through a penpal service for soldiers serving abroad in 1959 and they had two children, Larraine and Anthony, also known as Joe.

Tony's Army experiences led him to being a guest of honour at the opening of a new museum dedicated to the Parachute Regiment in Duxford, Cambridgeshire, last year.

The great-grandfather met Prince Charles, the colonel-in-chief of the regiment, at the opening.

Tony's son Joe, 45, said his dad was a military man through and through.

He said: "He never wanted to leave the Army.

"He was 40 when he came out of the Paras and was in the TA for a while in Preston.

"He was a bit of a character."

After Tony left the Paras in 1969, he worked at BTR in Leyland and as a security guard for Leyland Truck and Bus. He was also a member of Lostock Hall Conservative Club.

He died on Sunday in Stranraer, Scotland. Tony's funeral will be held at 9am on Saturday at St Gerard's Catholic Church in Lostock Hall.

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