Sheffield fundraiser John Burkhill to turn on city’s Christmas lights

Man with the Pram: Macmillan fundraiser John Burkhill shows off his pram 'driving' skills, and a fair turn of pace, at the Parkwood Karting track, Sheffield, where the fundraising is taking place.
Man with the Pram: Macmillan fundraiser John Burkhill shows off his pram 'driving' skills, and a fair turn of pace, at the Parkwood Karting track, Sheffield, where the fundraising is taking place.
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His charity work has brought light to the lives of many - but now Sheffield’s John Burkhill will make the whole city shine.

The legendary walker, also known as the Mad Man With The Pram for his work for Macmillan, has been invited to push the plunger and turn on Sheffield’s mainC hristmas lights this Sunday, November 22, after a social media campaign called for the council to let him do so.

(l-r) Chris Gasgoyne playing Abanazar, Alex Winters playing Wishee Washee, James Mitchell playing P.C Congo, Damian Williams playing Widow Twanky, Elizabeth Carter playing Princess Jasmine and Hilary O'Neil playing Genie of the ring at the launch of the Aladdin pantomine at the Lyceum Theatre. Picture: Andrew Roe

(l-r) Chris Gasgoyne playing Abanazar, Alex Winters playing Wishee Washee, James Mitchell playing P.C Congo, Damian Williams playing Widow Twanky, Elizabeth Carter playing Princess Jasmine and Hilary O'Neil playing Genie of the ring at the launch of the Aladdin pantomine at the Lyceum Theatre. Picture: Andrew Roe

A council spokesman said they were ‘thrilled’ that John had agreed to take part and he had said it was an ‘honour.’

They added: “We’d also like to say a genuine thank you to everyone who took the time to get in touch and say how much they’d like to see Mr Burkhill up on stage.”
Elves, reindeer and snow will take over the city centre for the sparkling switch on.

Shoppers will be able to walk through a winter wonderland of entertainment – and watch three different parts of the centre be illuminated with lights – from 2pm on Sunday.

The other star acts to push the plunger and turn on the main lights has been confirmed as members of London girl band Stooshe, best known for their top ten single Black Heart, which spent a month in the charts. Sheffield singer Lucy Spraggan is also to make an appearance.

Sunday night at Lytham Proms.'Stooshe on stage.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'4-8-2013

Sunday night at Lytham Proms.'Stooshe on stage. PIC BY ROB LOCK'4-8-2013

A whole host of attractions, themed around a traditional Yuletide, will take place.

They include:

n Christmas crafts, an elf trail, carol singing and storytelling sessions in the Winter Garden

n A living nativity, children’s rides, snow machine and real reindeer on The Moor from 12.30pm before the shopping street’s lights are switched on first at 4pm

n Shopping complex Orchard Square’s lights will be switched on at 4.30pm

n Father Christmas will meet children at his grotto on Fargate as part of the Christmas market of wooden cabins, which is also opening for the occasion

n Children’s characters will meet crowds outside the Town Hall and in the Peace Gardens

n Fairground rides along Pinstone Street – plus strolling street entertainers and pantomime performers from Aladdin at the Lyceum Theatre

X Factor winner Sam Bailey and BGT winners Callabro switch on the Sheffield lights

X Factor winner Sam Bailey and BGT winners Callabro switch on the Sheffield lights

n A fire engine and display of emergency vehicles in Barker’s Pool 
n There is a main stage in the Peace Gardens for the big switch on at 5.30pm, and a big screen in Pinstone Street for others to watch it on

Sheffield Council leader Coun Julie Dore said: “I’m really looking forward to this year’s event, and hope that people of all ages will enjoy this year’s Christmas light switch on.

“The theme is a traditional Christmas, with a focus on the Christmas tree in front of the Town Hall.

“The city centre will be illuminated to add some sparkle through to New Year.

“The Christmas market will also be open in Fargate, giving opportunities to buy that unusual gift and also festive food and drink.”

Radio show Heart is working on the event.

DJs Dixie and Emma, from Heart’s Breakfast show, said: “We both love getting into the festive spirit with everyone at the Sheffield Christmas lights.

“It’s such an amazing event and we’re so happy to be back.”