Sheffield's 'man with the pram' is 'knighted' at city's Lowedges Festival
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With his trademark green wig and giant green foam hand he uses to high five his supporters, John Burkhill is a legend in the Steel City.
Barely a day goes by without the 83-year-old pushing what was his daughter’s pram around the streets collecting donations in a bucket.
He has been doing this for an incredible 15 years as well as around 1,000 organised races, including marathons.
And at the age of 83, John has no intention of giving up. He set out with a mission of raising £1 million for Macmillan Cancer Support and has so far collected over £837,000 for the charity which means so much to him and his family.
John recently attended the Lowedges Festival in August and in recognition of his efforts was invited to take a knee, where he was ‘knighted’ on ‘behalf of the people of Sheffield and Macmillan Cancer Support’.
The presentation was given by Tony Turner, an entertainer, also known as Barney Baloney, and was well received by the crowd.
John suffered a double tragedy in 1991 and 1992, when he lost his daughter Karen, and then the following year lost his wife to cancer.
Both tragic events kick started his fundraising campaign.
At the festival, John said: “I know it sounds a bit daft, but when I’m pushing this pram and Karen’s with me, and my wife’s with me they keep me going.
On approaching £1m in funds raised, he added: “I thought it was an impossible dream, but it’s a reality now it’s going to happen.”
The event was cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic – but returned with a bang and organiser Stephen Rich, aged 68, was pleased with how it went.
He said: ”I thought the event went very well. I thought it was busy, our biggest crowd ever I would have thought. I would say there were roundabout 15,000 throughout the day.
“There was something there for every age group, the car show, the reenactment area, the bands went down well. The free rides were loved, people also enjoyed the birds of prey.
“The farmers market was the best ever it went really well.”
He added: “Caribbean Fusion had a tremendous day selling out, their best ever at our festival. It’s gone from strength to strength.”
Stephen added that they need more volunteers to come forward to help with next year’s event.
He said: “We need more help, that’s why we need more volunteers. There are only four of us to get the festival organised.
“Four people can’t run a festival that size. We’re looking for more people, there's not going to be another one unless we get more help.
“The people who organise the event are all over sixty, with the oldest being 75.
“The festival needs more people to help with the numerous tasks.”
Anyone who can help can contact Stephen via the Lowedges Community Festival Group or email; [email protected]