Sheffield's 'Man With a Pram' completes 25th Great North Run, aged 82

Sheffield fundraising legend John Burkhill proved once again that age is just a number as he completed his 25th Great North Run, aged 82.

By Robert Cumber
Sunday, 12th September 2021, 8:21 pm

The Man With a Pram, as he is affectionately known, joined some 57,000 other runners lining up for the race – described by organisers as the world’s ‘biggest and best’ half marathon – on Sunday.

It was his second big race in a week, having given himself just days to recover from finishing the Asda Foundation Leeds 10K, which was set up in his good friend Jane Tomlinson’s memory, last Sunday, September 5.

In two weeks’ time he is due to take part yet again in the Asda Foundation Sheffield 10K, also part of the Jane Tomlinson’s Run For All series, which he has run every year since it was launched.

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John Burkhill with his latest medal after completing the Great North Run for the 25th time

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Speaking after the race, John said: “It was tremendous. I always get a massive reception up in Newcastle and this year was no different. I think they see me, in the nicest way, as this mad fellow from Sheffield who’s round the bend.

"This year was extra special being number 25 and it was the 40th anniversary of the race so the medal is a really beautiful one. I shall be back next year, no matter what.”

John, from Handsworth, who is impossible to miss thanks to his curly green wig and the pram he always pushes, has raised around £800,000 for the cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support and has his heart set on hitting his £1,000,000 target.

John Burkhill says he plans to return next year to complete his 26th Great North Run

He is spurred on by the memory of his daughter Karen, who died suddenly in 1991, and his wife June, who he lost to cancer.

In 2019, he was given the Freedom of the City of Sheffield in recognition of his fundraising, and last year, he received a second British Empire Medal from the Queen.

His proud son Stuart said: “I just call him mad man because that’s what he is. This is all we’ve ever known him doing.”

His grandson Danny added: “I'm more proud than words can say to tell people he's my grandad.”