A much loved Petts Wood pensioner famed for his daily topless runs through Petts Wood and Orpington has passed away.

The death of James Gilson, more commonly known as ‘Running Man’, has triggered hundreds of online tributes.

A statement on ‘The Fans of The Running Man’ (FTRM) Facebook page announced this morning: “It saddens me to have to inform you of the recent passing of Our Running Man.

“During February and March his health declined and he passed away very recently.

“He was an inspiration to many people in the local areas of Petts Wood, Bromley and Orpington, and will be sadly missed by the local people who regularly saw him as he ran his daily route.

“We were not only interested in him but we held him in admiration for his sprit and tenacity and I am sure he will continue to inspire people as we remember him with fondness of our times when we saw 'OUR RUNNING MAN.’ RIP James Gilson.”

The Facebook page has more than 5,000 members who regularly posted photographs of Mr Gilson on his daily runs.

Last year News Shopper ran a feature on the local celebrity who was asked to officially start the Petts Wood Runners 10k race.

Comments leading up to the event included a user who wrote: “One more sleep to go before Running Man starts the Pettswood Runners 10k.”

News Shopper:

Speaking at the event, Mr Gilson told a race organiser: “I can't believe that people are interested in me for my running."

Speaking to News Shopper last year, FTRM creator Donna Carroll, of Almond Way, Petts Wood, said: “This page only started because my daughter’s friend posted a picture of Running Man on her page saying ‘Guess who I see’.

“I felt as happy as she did and she just wanted to share the smiles – simple.

News Shopper:

“And he does make you smile when you see him.

“Nearly everyone has had nothing but good words for him, and some even show concern for him, that he is looking tired, and that everyone is hassling him now.

“I have told him if he wants the page closed then he can let me know as soon as possible.”

News Shopper:

Mr Gilson, was thought to be 87 years old.

Did you know Mr Gilson? Call the newsroom on 01689 885703 or email dkeel@london.newsquest.co.uk