John's skating challenge to support hungry children

Charity fund-raising has beenseverely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with more appeals than ever for people to donate what they can to a good cause.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 11:32 am
Updated Thursday, 11th March 2021, 11:34 am
Dr John Wilcock

Exemplary standouts for their work for charity include Captain Sir Tom Moore who raised £32 million for the NHS and Marcus Rashford, the England footballer player who pushed the government towards giving out free school meals to children while the schools were still closed.

Inspired by these icons, Dr John Wilcock, 89, has set his own challenge in order to raise money for hungry children.

More specifically, Dr Wilcock has outlined a fund-raising challenge to complete 90 laps of the courtyard outside his flat (a grand total of 3.5 miles) using roller-skates and a rollator walking aid.

The challenge will run for 45 weeks this week through to January 18, 2022, days before he is due to turn 90 years old.

Each week, he aims to complete two laps of the courtyard in order to reach the 90-lap goal.

Raised in the mining communities of Sutton Manor and Clock Face before, during and after WWII, John often knew the feeling of going hungry.

“The pantry was often empty, and we knew what it was like to be hungry,” he said.

Leaving school aged 14, he worked as a milk roundsman delivering to the streets of Dentons Green, Parr and Thatto Heath before being called up for National Service in the Royal Air Force.

After three years of service, John returned to the milk round during the day and studied for GCEs in the evenings.

Through that, he studied at Hull University, going on to earn a doctorate at Birmingham University and from there went on to lead a successful career as a university lecturer.

“It was not an easy progression but was laced with a bit of good luck and opportunities which are much harder to find nowadays,” he added.

John hopes to raise at least £500 for FareShare, a charity that redistributes food that would be thrown away to around 11,000 frontline charities nationwide.

John said: “Times were hard for us as children, but Covid has highlighted and made worse the problems that some families are still facing now.”

So far, John has completed his first lap of the courtyard and raised £422.

John added: “For almost 30 years I have been retired and I think it time that I put something back into the community.

"We owe it to our children to give them a decent start in life. They will be our next doctors, nurses, bus drivers, builders, teachers and carers.”

If you would like to donate to Dr Wilcock’s cause, go to