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Lecturer writes Jane Tomlinson into the history books
Jane Tomlinson
Jane Tomlinson receives her MBE in 2003

A Yorkshire historian has brought local heroine Jane Tomlinson to national prominence with an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

John Hargreaves, a History lecturer at Leeds Trinity University College, nominated Jane for inclusion in the prestigious publication.

Her inclusion is in recognition of her extraordinary sporting and fundraising efforts during her battle with cancer.

Jane lost her battle with cancer in 2007.

A retired secondary history teacher, John has always taken an active interest in local history, receiving the British Association for Local History award in 2009.

Currently a visiting lecturer in history at Leeds Trinity, he has been associated with history projects at the college since 1987.

Drawing on a wealth of sources including the three autobiographies Jane Tomlinson wrote with her husband Mike, news media, and an interview with her mother, John admits it was hard to do justice to Jane's achievements in a single article.

John Hargreaves
John Hargreaves - the history man

"Everyone is aware in West Yorkshire of Jane's huge achievements despite her health problems. She has left a lasting legacy - she raised £1.75 million for cancer charities in her lifetime and fundraising in her name continues today."

Diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2000 and given just six months to live, Jane Tomlinson embarked on a series of sporting challenges to raise funds for cancer research. As John's entry in the ODNB says, "Her courage in facing her terminal illness and her athletic feats of endurance won her widespread admiration and affection."

The article on Jane Tomlinson isn't John's first contributions to the ODNB. He has profiled many figures with a Yorkshire connection, spanning the centuries from the 16th to the 21st.

His subjects include figures from the entertainment world such as Harry Corbett (Guiseley) and Wilfred Pickles (Halifax), playwright Andrea Dunbar (Bradford) and Charles Jenkinson, the housing reformer behind the Quarry Hill flats in Leeds.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is a collection of over 57,000 biographies of individuals from all walks of life who have influenced Britain's history.

The last print edition appeared in 2004 and there are three online updates every year, with this January's update listing prominent people who died in 2007. Free access to the ODNB is available through local libraries.

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