John’s mission to share Olympic torch with city

Lit up: John Burkhill hands over his Olympic Torch to Wayne Barrrett at Cash Converters. PICTURE: STUART HASTINGS.
Lit up: John Burkhill hands over his Olympic Torch to Wayne Barrrett at Cash Converters. PICTURE: STUART HASTINGS.
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MAN with the Pram John Burkhill has been giving a helping hand in his mission to share the magic of holding the Olympic torch with as many people as possible.

The Sheffield fundraiser has joined forces with Cash Converters store on Glossop Road to give members of the public the chance to grasp the golden beacon.

John, aged 73, famous for walking around the city centre in a bright green wig collecting cash for charity, is handing over the prized possession to the shop for the duration of London 2012.

People can go along, hold it and have their photo taken with it in exchange for a donation to Macmillan Cancer Support.

The store has set itself a fundraising target of £2,000 and franchisee Darren Barrett also gave £200 to Macmillan, which amount the charity paid to buy the torch for John.

John said: “I’ve been taking the torch round the schools and people are always asking me if they can hold it.

“It’s a shame we didn’t get to all the schools before the summer holidays and I want to share it with as many people in Sheffield as possible because it belongs to them as much as it does to me. They voted for me to carry the torch.

“For a lot of people they won’t get chance to hold it again, it’s a once in a lifetime thing. The look on those kids’ faces when they hold it - they light up.

“I’d never sell it, not for £500 million, but loaning it out is a great idea if we can raise some money from it too.”

The fundraising boost comes as John takes a rare break from pounding the streets to watch the Olympics.

He said: “The pram is going in for its MOT. I’m having a bit of a holiday before the next thing I’m doing, which is a walk from Sheffield to York.”

Cash Converters will have the torch until August 12. Staff have also organised a fundraising Stars in Their Eyes evening at Grange Park Golf Club, Kimberworth, Rotherham on August 10.

Store manager Wayne Barrett said: “John brought the torch into the shop one day and it generated a lot of interest, people were wanting to hold it.

“He said he’d never sell it but I said if you let me have it for the Olympics I promise you we’ll raise £2,000. We shook on it there and then.”