'I'm proud to be mad!' Sheffield charity pram man hits back at petition to stop calling him 'mad'
John Burkhill, who has been a familiar sight on the city's streets for decades dressed in his green clothes and wig and has been dubbed 'the mad man with a pram' has railed against the petition, saying he's proud of the title.
In a message posted online, he wrote: "We have heard that someone has set up a petiton to stop the Sheffield Star from calling me the mad man with the pram.
"I am very proud to be called Sheffield's Mad Man With The Pram, a nickname that was given to me many, many years ago coming into the finish at the old Sheffield Star walk in the 1980s by Peter Gray, the publicity manager for the Sheffield Star.
"I am very very proud that that nickname has helped me to raise over half a million pounds and counting. We are the only city who have got a mad man with the pram and I'm so proud to be that man."
Responding on Facebook, Sally Dale, who set up the petition, which she says has attracted 100 signatures, said: "I actually set up the petition, as many people approached me upset about John being referred to as mad.
"We felt we were doing the right thing as did the nearly 100 people that signed it."
John has raised thousands for charity over the years and recently hit the headlines when he was abused by a handful of Rangers supporters during the Scottish club's pre-season friendly with Sheffield Wednesday.
Rangers fans hit back, raising thousands of pounds in support of Mr Burkhill, who walks miles dressed in his colourful outfits.
Mr Burkhill's supporters blasted the petition on social media.
Sarah Glossop wrote: "You need to be knighted - keep doing what you're doing while Alison Mears added: "We're proud of you too John! Carry on doing what you do. You are a true gent and the real people of Sheffield love you and all you stand for."
Kathleen Russell Cambell wrote: "If what he does is mad then I wish there were more mad people like him in the world. Sheffield people love and respect this man."
Sally Foster wrote: "Ignore them John,we love you and the good work that you do" while Jamir Wilson wrote: "The scourge of the generation - people getting offended on somebody else's behalf. Keep up the amazing work sir. Sheffield is proud of you."
Sandra Adams added: "John you have done a great thing over the years and Sheffield people will always call you 'mad man with the pram. You deserve a medal we all love you."