Cornwall

Record-breaker Diane Leather laid to rest in Cornwall

Diane Leather
Image caption Diane Leather broke the record of a sub five minute mile in May 1954

The funeral has been held for Diane Leather, the first woman in the world to run a mile in under five minutes.

Family, friends and sporting greats gathered to celebrate the life of the 85-year-old in Truro.

Mrs Leather broke the record in Birmingham in 1954, just days after Roger Bannister's sub-four-minute mile.

But she waited years for the acclaim as at the time women's distance running was not recognised by the athletics establishment.

The "incredibly modest" record breaker died on 5 September after a stroke.

Double Olympic gold-medallist Daley Thompson and former karate world champion Geoff Thompson were among mourners at Penmount Crematorium.

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Daughter Lyndsey Armstrong described her as "extremely intelligent, passionate and bonkers but very bright and caring."

Mrs Leather grew up in Streetly, then part of Staffordshire, and was 21 when she broke the record at Alexander Sports Ground in Perry Barr.

A chemistry graduate, she started running after being inspired by the Helsinki Olympics.

Image caption Her four children were never aware of their mother's athletic achievements

She joined her local athletics club, where she showed natural talent and became the female counterpart of Roger Bannister.

Mrs Leather, by then known by her married name of Charles, moved to Cornwall with her family in the 1980s and went into a career in social care.

Her four children were never aware of their mother's athletic achievements until her daughter Lyndsey found her scrapbook.

Image caption Family and friends gathered to celebrate the life of the 85-year-old at Penmount Crematorium, Truro

She said: "I personally never knew anything about her running achievements.

"She was incredibly modest, I asked her about it and she just said it was nothing.

"She did a lot for athletics when we we're growing up and we did running at school.

"She never pushed us, I think she wanted to make me a great runner but she only ever supported us."

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