A pensioner who has dedicated his life to raising £1 million for Macmillan Cancer Support as The Man With The Pram said he is “humbled” and “blown away” after hitting his target.
John Burkhill, 84, has become one of the best-known characters in Sheffield.
He spends his days bringing colour to the city’s streets, with his decorated pram, trademark green wig and giant foam hand, collecting cash as he chats with everyone he meets.
Mr Burkhill, who lives in the Handsworth area of the city, began fundraising for Macmillan in 2007.
He was inspired by the death of his wife, June, to cancer in 1993 – a year to the day after they lost their daughter, Karen, during a routine procedure.
He initially set a target of £250,000 but, after he hit that in 2013, he turned to what he called the “magic million” mark.
As well his daily tours of Sheffield’s suburbs and city centre, he has taken part in 1,038 races – always pushing the pram he bought for his late daughter in 1961.
And he is one of the few figures who transcends Sheffield’s football divide as he is welcomed outside both Wednesday and United grounds on matchdays.
He said: “I’m honestly lost for words.
“I’m truly humbled by it all and blown away.
“People have said I’m a hero and legend, but those people who have put money in the bucket and donated, they are the heroes.”
Mr Burkhill said: “I can’t thank everyone enough for their support.
“They all might think I’m a bit daft, in the nicest possible way, but they got right behind what I’m trying to do for those affected by cancer.”
He said he has no plans to stop.
Mr Burkhill said: “I’ll keep going.
“People have always asked me what I’ll do when I get there, but I’ve got to carry on.
“I know it’s a bit daft, but when I’m shoving that pram, both my daughter and wife are still with me. They keep me going.
“As long as I can put one foot in front of the other, I’ll keep going.”
Mr Burkhill received the British Empire Medal in 2013 and a bar for the medal in 2021.
He also received the Douglas Macmillan award for services to Macmillan Cancer Support in 2013 and was recognised with a British Citizens Award for services to charitable giving in January.
Chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, Gemma Peters, said: “We are immensely proud of John and so grateful for his incredible effort over the last 15 years to achieve his ambition of raising £1 million for Macmillan Cancer Support.
“It is difficult to put into words just how phenomenal this achievement is, as John embodies everything that is good in humanity.
“He is selfless beyond measure, having overcome such personal tragedy, and has put everybody else first before himself.”
Ms Peters said: “John really has done whatever it takes for people living with cancer in trekking across the city most days, whatever the weather, and taking part in countless races across country pushing his late daughter’s pram.
“We thank you, John, from the bottom of our hearts.”
Macmillan said plans are being finalised for a celebration event to thank John for his achievement.
The charity said his fundraising translates to providing a Macmillan nurse for 16 years, or answering Macmillan’s support line 58,823 times or giving 2,857 people a Macmillan grant to help cover the extra costs that cancer can bring like travel costs or paying for a wig.