On Wednesday, the 82-year-old was out in public for the first time since last March and was joined by cancer support charity Macmillan and the team Virgin Money in Sheffield for a walk around the city centre to collect funds – pushing his pram and wearing the trademark green wig.
Speaking about being out again, John said: “ Well, it’s terrific meeting all these lovely people who are supporting us, even the beggars, it says a lot about us, and we’re very lucky that they are like that.
“These very special people, Sheffield people, I love them to bits, and they know that; the first day out is quite emotional really, and I’ve met no end of people already, so it’s fantastic.”
He added: “Macmillan they look after so many people, every charity is in the same boat I suppose, but they do look after people, I look at it like this, if somebody puts ten pence in that bucket, it’s ten pence more than we had before, look at it like that, and it works no matter what way you look at it.
“We’ve just come past the town hall, and there’s a lass there a beggar, and she’s just put some money in the bucket, now that to me makes such a lot of difference, it’s not about how much she put in, but it’s fantastic, you can’t put it into words really.”
Vicky Travis of Virgin Money, Sheffield Branch, said: “Macmillan is our charity partner of the year, this year at Virgin Money so we’ve been in touch with John to support him with his fundraising as well. We’ve got a supply of his books back at Virgin Money that have been available to customers if they want to buy one. We’ve actually got a book signing coming up in a few weeks where John is going to be at Virgin Money signing books.
“It’s fantastic to raise money for a really great cause. We’re so proud to be a part of it and support him and Macmillan this year.”
John, from Handsworth, is known for raising a smile and a laugh with his hilarious outfits and warm personality, but his back story is a poignant one.
His daughter Karen died suddenly in 1991, and he later tragically lost his wife June to cancer – since then, he has raised thousands to support Macmillan.
He originally set a target of raising £250,000 for Macmillan, but in 2013, he reached this goal and then immediately set his sights on raising £1 million for the charity.
In 2019, John was given the Freedom of the City of Sheffield in recognition of his fundraising for Macmillan spanning four decades while last year, he received a second British Empire Medal from the Queen.
John recently received his second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and is now urging others to do the same.
To donate to John's fundraising page, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/madwalker