RETRO: Sheffield man goes the extra mile for charity

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Legendary Sheffield fundraiser John Burkhill has relived his extraordinary life in a charity biography.

Today, The Star publishes the fifth extract from Distance No Object: Sheffield’s Man with the Pram, as part of a six-week serialisation of the book to raise money for Macmillan.

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In this extract, John talks about more of his running challenges and going that extra mile for charity.

‘The very first walk for Macmillan was set up by Steve Loane, who was and still is the area fundraising manager for Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, a walk of 1,000 miles between Sheffield’s three Somerfield stores: Broomhill, Pinstone Street and White Lane at Gleadless. The walk was called Push for Change and it raised over our intended target, which was £1,000 for 1,000 miles.

Many of you will remember one of Yorkshire’s greatest fundraisers, the late great Jane Tomlinson, and her husband Mike, who raised thousands for charity. I took part in Jane’s 10k race, the Run for All, in Leeds, and used to walk from Sheffield to Leeds with my pram to do so. I am proud to say that I have done this every year till the present day. In 2012 – what a year that would turn out to be – I won the Jane Tomlinson Award for Performance of the Year, at a very posh do in Leeds. But more about all that later.

Having decided that all money I raised would now go to Macmillan, one of the first things I did was to walk the old Star Walk course 74 times. The 900 mile course was and always will be very, very special to me. Many people have asked me why 74 times – well, that was how many Star Walks were done until it was scrapped in 2000.

I set out from the Star’s offices at 10am every morning (on Sundays I was in a marathon or 10-miler somewhere else). Sometimes I doubled up, doing the route twice in one day. The challenge started in September and finished in November. In the latter stages people on the route began to cheer me on, and a few of my old race walking pals came out to see me. I had a great reception at the Hillsborough athletics track when I finally finished. The Star again gave this walk some great coverage, and it raised well into the thousands.

By now I was well known for my pram, but walking for Macmillan was to make me famous for something else too: my green wig and big green foam hand. Why green? That’s Macmillan’s colour. Why a wig and a big hand? Well, I am the mad man after all!

* John is carrying out a book signing in the Moors Market from 11am-2pm today (Saturday, November 12).

‘Distance No Object: Sheffield’s Man with the Pram’ is available from Amazon priced at £9.99. You can buy a copy at:

Online at Amazon.co.uk – Search ‘John Burkhill’

Sheffield Star shop, York Street

Waterstones – Orchard Square & Meadowhall

Blades Superstore – Bramall Lane

Owls Superstore – Hillsborough

The Moor Market

Click here to read the fourth extract in the serialisation