Favourite Things: ‘Sheffield people really are something else’

John Burkhill from Handsworth, affectionately known as ‘The Man with the Pram’, needs little introduction.

Friday, 1st February 2019, 1:55 pm
Updated Friday, 1st February 2019, 1:58 pm
John Burkill 72 yrs old finishes his latest charity walk in Sheffield Picture by Chris Lawton

John can often be seen pushing his pram through the streets of Sheffield, or outside both football clubs on alternate Saturdays, with his trademark green wig, pram and his large foam hand.

John has dedicated his life to raising funds for Macmillan after losing his wife June to cancer. John carried the Olympic torch in 2012, and has won numerous awards including the British Empire Medal in 2013.

The Crucible in Sheffield on a wet and windy November night.

Recently, John celebrated his 80th birthday with a surprise party at Sheffield Town Hall. John said it was one of the best days of his life. His sons Stuart and Scott and grandson Daniel attended along with lots old friends.

In his 80th year he wants to really boost his fundraising towards his ‘Magic Million for Macmillan’. You can help John by donating www.justgiving.com/fundraising/madwalker or purchasing his book on Amazon, Distance No Object: Sheffield’s Man with the Pram

Sheffield people

I can’t praise them enough. They’re the most friendliest people in England. They haven’t just got blood, they’ve got true Yorkshire grit. The children…how can you put it into words when a little child runs up to you and throws their arms around you and asks, ‘Are you going to save my grandad?’ I get asked a lot time who is the most important person I’ve met. The Queen, to name one, she’s a great lass. But the most important by far is anyone who puts money in my bucket. That money, even if it’s only 1p, it makes all the difference to us. I hear the most amazing stories. That’s why it takes me so long to get around the races.

Hillsborough Exchange

They’ve been brilliant to me. People bring down all their change. One lady even brings sweets for the children. I meet with the same people every Friday. I’m usually there between 11am and 11.30am – it’s very rare I miss it.

The Star

I can’t thank them enough. They accept me for what I am and my broad Yorkshire. They are 1000 per cent behind me. I think they’re brilliant! They kept my pram at their old building for over 10 years and they looked after it so well. A huge thank you to everything you have done for me. Peter Gray gave me the nickname ‘Madman with the Pram’. Martin Smith went through my longhand notes when my book was only an idea. He encouraged me to get my book published. Nancy is out of this world. She thinks I’m potty.

BBC Radio Sheffield

Rony Robinson walked round Sheffield with me for the day – he said it was one of the best broadcasting days he had. Everyone at Radio Sheffield is incredible. Toby has had me on a lot recently, he’s great. He says what he thinks, he’s real, just like me. Paulette’s smashing, as was the special party they held for me at Sheffield Town Hall.

The Moor Market

I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me over the years. They’ve done book signings for me and raised so much awareness for Macmillan. Everyone in the market comes and talks to me and shares their stories. The kids, they love the high fives.


Macmillan have been brilliant. The helpline is fantastic. I have people crying on my shoulder and I always pass on their number. They’re professional and whenever I see people I have passed the number on to, they always say how much they’ve helped them. I hope one day a cure for cancer is found, but I know that Macmillan will always be there, regardless.

Our Football Clubs

They are summat else. Both teams and both sets of fans are out of this world. I would love to see both clubs go up together into the Premiership and show them other clubs how good we are in Sheffield.

The Theatres

The Crucible has amazing shows and the World Snooker. The City Hall has the likes of Manor Operatic putting on great shows there. The City Hall has so many special memories for me. I thank each and every person who puts money in my bucket, on behalf of myself and Macmillan. We will never be able to thank you enough. It has gone to help so many people who are suffering and made their lives better.


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