Famed Sheffield fundraiser John Burkhill has recalled his amazing life in a charity biography, serialised in Retro.
Here, The Star publishes its final extract from John’s book, Distance No Object: Sheffield’s Man with the Pram.
John sums up his feelings about his work and his city.
“I have met so many famous people during all my fundraising walks and events, and have felt very privileged to have been featured in the Star, on Radio Sheffield, on Hallam FM and on national television.
At 77 years of age, my family – my two sons Stuart and Scott, my grandson Daniel and partner June – have pleaded with me to stop. I have thought long and hard about it. My answer is that I’m sorry but I can’t, and never will.
As I’ve said many times before, while ever I can put one foot in front of the other I have got to carry on. I have had a few problems, but mine are minor compared to the suffering that this terrible cancer can cause.
Besides, when I was ill and I went up to see the big boss upstairs, who we all have to answer to, he wouldn’t let me in. He said: “You haven’t brought your pram or your torch – and not only that, I’m skint, so you had better get back down and raise some more money!” You see, he does have a sense of humour!
Seriously though, I can’t get out of my mind that little girl so many years ago on Barnsley Road in the snow. The happiness and smile on her face, despite what she was going through… I hope that I never ever lose that memory. It’s what drives me on and always will.
Let me say that I’m so proud that Sheffield is the only city in England to have a mad man with a pram. And I’m so proud to be that man.
Over the years I have won countless awards and medals, and made so many memories.
So it should be impossible for me to pick a favourite one. But for me it’s easy: it’s meeting so many of the best people in the country – Yorkshire folk.
I am so proud of my home county, and so proud of my city of Sheffield. You fellow Sheffielders of mine really are the best in the country, and I know that together we will get that magic million pounds for Macmillan. It’s not me, but you – each and every one of you – that has made all this possible. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
One final thing: please remember to never, ever face cancer alone. For help and support, ring Macmillan on 0808 808 0000.”
Distance No Object: Sheffield’s Man with the Pram is available online from Amazon, priced at £9.99. Search for John Burkhill.
You can also buy a copy at the Sheffield Star shop, York Street, Waterstones in Orchard Square and Meadowhall, the Blades Superstore, Bramall Lane, the Owls Superstore, Hillsborough and The Moor Market.
John is signing copies of his book today, Sarturday, November 26, at Waterstones on the Upper Arcade at Meadowhall between 11am and 3pm.