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Sheffield's Man With the Pram, John Burkhill
Sheffield's Man With the Pram, John Burkhill

Meet the man behind the pram: Local hero at Moor Market book signing

Thursday 10 November 2016

John Burkhill, Sheffield’s famous ‘mad man with the pram’, has penned his long-awaited autobiography telling his fascinating tale of a truly unique life, and this Saturday 12 November lucky Sheffielders have the chance to get their copy signed by the local legend himself.

‘Distance No Object: Sheffield’s Man with the Pram’ is full of moving memories, insightful pictures from John’s own archive and a fair old dose of Yorkshire humour.

He is bringing his incredible story to the Moor Market in Sheffield on Saturday 12 November, 11am – 2pm and will sign copies for all those who buy or have already bought the book.

Wearing his green wig, giant foam hand and pushing his colourful pram complete with mascot Biggles, John has become a familiar sight on the streets of Sheffield. At 77 years old, he spends almost every day walking around Sheffield collecting money for the cause closest to his heart, Macmillan Cancer Support and he has already raised more than £350,000. It’s an amazing level of dedication and one inspired by a terrible personal tragedy.

John, from Handsworth, aged 77 said, “It’s absolutely incredible to hold this book in my hands. I really hope people enjoy reading it. It’s something I’ve thought about doing for a long, long time. I’ve loved writing it.

“Most people know a little about why I do what I do – many think I’m completely barmy but there are things in this book which I’ve never really talked about publicly before which people often ask me about. This is my way of telling everyone where it all began, the challenges I’ve faced and why I love the people of Sheffield so very much.”

From his early days in Sheffield to his antics as a teenager, his fundraising races and walks across the country, to the celebrities (and royals!) he’s rubbed shoulders with along the way, it really is quite a story.

A keen sportsman since childhood, John developed a passion for race walking in the 1960s. Ever since, he spent most weekends taking part in races up and down the country, often raising considerable sums for charity in the process. After the loss of his wife and daughter, John dedicated every spare moment to these fundraising walks.

Having raised thousands of pounds for various causes over the years, on his retirement at the turn of the Millennium John decided to focus on one charity in particular, Macmillan. Since then, he has collected more than £350,000 for the charity – but the determined pensioner says he won’t stop until he’s reached £1 million.

John is known by pretty much everyone in Sheffield and is recognised as a local legend, now his book will allow people to really get to know the man behind the pram.

In 2012, he was voted by the people of Sheffield to be a torchbearer when the Olympic torch relay passed through the city. A year later, he was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list and in 2015 he flicked the big switch to turn on Sheffield’s Christmas lights.

Richard Eyre, Head of City Centre Management at Sheffield City Council, said: “John is well known and well loved by many people throughout Sheffield. He is a true local hero, an inspiration and we are proud to say he’s a Sheffielder. It’s an honour to host to one if his book signings in the Moor Market and I hope that it is a huge success and helps him get even closer to his £1 million target.”

This Saturday John will make an extra special visit to the Moor Market in Sheffield, between 11am to 2pm, for a book signing event where people can buy his book and have it signed by the legend himself.

After teaming up at the Sheffield Half Marathon in April and the Sheffield 10k last month, John will once again be joined by Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Denise Fox at 11:30 in the market.

The book costs £9.99, with every penny of the proceeds donated towards John’s personal goal of raising £1 million for Macmillan.

The Market is open 8am to 5:30pm Monday to Saturday. Discounted parking for Moor Market customers is available at the Eyre Street car park at £1.50 for 2 hours.

The Moor Market will be host to lots of free festive events for all the family, on the run up to Christmas, visit the website for more details www.sheffieldmarkets.com/markets/moor-market, follow on Twitter at @TheMoorMarket or like the Facebook page facebook.com/MoorMarket.