Sheffield’s most famous fundraiser broke down in tears at being awarded the Freedom of the City.
Eighty-year-old John Burkhill BEM, from Richmond, told Sheffield City Council it was “one of the greatest days of my life” at a special meeting to honour the infamous local fundraiser with the award, the highest honour the council can bestow.
“Sheffield is the only city to have a mad man with a pram and I’m proud to be that man,” he said in front of an applauding council at the Town Hall.
Mr Burkhill’s daughter Karen died suddenly from cancer in 1991, and his wife June passed away just a year later from a similar illness, sparking his campaign to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Since his first race in 1991, Mr Burkhill has raised roughly £800,000 of his £1 million target, and he has now taken part in more than 1,000 charity races.
The Lincoln 10k run on Sunday will be his 1011th charity race for Macmillan.
“A penny that’s in your pocket is a penny that Macmillan didn’t have before,” he said, “I’m going to continue to do as much as I can for as long as I can.”
He pushed late wife June to the finish line in the 1992 Sheffield Marathon in his legendary pram, the same pram he pushed daughter Karen in as a baby.
Because of his many efforts he was chosen to carry the Olympic torch for the 2012 London Olympic Games, and in 2013 he was named on the New Year’s Honours list to be awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to charity.
That same year Macmillan also awarded him with the Douglas Macmillan Award for his decades of hard work.
“Today we want to say we are so very, very proud of you,” said Leader of the Council Julie Dore at the special meeting, “you are an absolute inspiration to us all.
“When people are in hard times, they know that when you are there, you are there for them.
“We look forward to seeing you on those many streets of Sheffield for many, many more years to come.”
The council voted unanimously to award Mr Burkhill with the honour, accompanied with a standing ovation for the 80-year-old.
A special ceremony for Mr Burkhill’s award will be held in the city centre at a later date.