Sheffield's 'man with the pram' John Burkhill issues heartfelt message to city after year like no other

John Burkhill has issued a special Christmas and new year message to everyone in Sheffield after a year that has tested the city like no other.

Thursday, 24th December 2020, 10:00 am

The city’s beloved ‘man with the pram’ hasn't been able to go out fundraising in his distinctive green wig since March after the coronavirus pandemic forced him to self-isolate at home for much of the year.

But he says the long lockdown periods have only made him more determined to reach his goal of raising a million pounds for Macmillan, and he has assured people he will be back on the road again as soon as he can.

“I just want to tell everybody to keep safe, keep happy and have as good a Christmas as you can,” he said.

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John Burkhill, Sheffield's famous fundraiser 'Man With The Pram', at a surprise celebration at Sheffield Town Hall to mark his 80th birthday. Picture: Scott Merrylees

“I have been really proud of Sheffield this year. Let's get this vaccine out there, get things back to normal and it will be great again.

“You will see the man with the pram next year.”

As well as missing out on his fundraising, John says he has also been sad not to be involved in the regular races he has taken part in for decades, meaning he has been stuck on 1,020 events since the beginning of the year.

He has also recently been forced to cancel the walk he normally does from Chesterfield Royal to the Northern General at Christmas, as well as the ‘Star walk’ he planned to do on his 82nd birthday on January 4.

“A lot of charities are completely stumped as they can't do anything while this is on,” he said.

“But I’m really looking forward to getting back out there, especially the football as both United and Wednesday fans have always been so good to me.”

He added: “This year has been very difficult and has set me back but I will get there. As long as I can put one foot in front of the other I will keep going.”

John said he has still been walking between 6-8 miles every day just to keep active but otherwise has been stuck inside his Handsworth house for most of the year.

But his family have been very supportive, he says, as have Macmillan, who have ensured he has been sticking to the strict coronavirus regulations that have been in place throughout 2020.

“When you are above 80 you have got to be careful,” he said.

“I used to call into a lot of care homes for pensioners who had saved their pennies and they had become friends.

“Sadly, I have lost a lot of them due to the terrible virus.”

Over the last 30 years, John has raised between £750,000 and £800,000 for Macmillan, a good cause he chose after his wife died from cancer.

He was awarded the first of two British Empire Medals for his extraordinary fundraising achievements in 2013, and last year was given the freedom of the city of Sheffield.

To donate to John’s fund and make sure he makes a million for Macmillan, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/madwalker.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.