Friday Hoyden: Jean Hirst


youngjeanhirstI was rather taken today by the story of Jean Hirst.

This 72-year-old woman was giving three teenage girls a lift after asking them directions to a theatre. One of the girls thought she saw an easy mark, grabbed Hirst’s handbag, and ran off.

Not so fast, however. What she didn’t know was that Hirst wasn’t just a retired teacher, she was a retired sprinter, Nottinghamshire County Schools champion and contestant in the All-England Championships at the age of 17.

She ran down the thief until she gave up and ditched the bag.

The Telegraph reports:

“She had a head start but I covered 70 yards in about 15 seconds and was within two strides of her when she looked over her shoulder and saw me.

“She probably thought I was an easy target but she shouldn’t have judged a book by its cover. The look on her face was one of sheer amazement and she just threw my bag aside.”


Mrs Hirst, who has two grown up children, was later rebuked by her daughter who told her the girl could have had a knife or turned aggressive.

She added: “I didn’t think of my safety, but I did pay for it a little the next day. I was covered in aches and pains and my daughter turned to me and said it was because I didn’t warm up properly.”

Categories: arts & entertainment, gender & feminism, law & order, Life

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4 replies

  1. I bet deep down those aches and pains are nostalgically welcome – let’s not pretend that your average championship elite athletic event doesn’t involve aches and pains the day after!
    I love the description of the teen malefactor having an expression of disbelief at seeing Jean pursuing close behind – I just bet she did!

  2. You know… I was coming to this post just after becoming insanely angry over a post at Renee’s, and this calmed me down enough to go on with my morning. I would have paid money to see that expression.

  3. I heard very generally about this story, and the details make me smile. Good on you, Ms Hirst.

  4. Would it be too much to hope that some bystander caught it on their phone or something and has kindly posted it on youtube?

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