BBC Children in Need: Fundraising dad completes 34-mile 'pram push' from Ilkley to Leeds and back
A Leeds dad has completed his 23rd annual 'pram push' from Ilkley to Leeds for Children in Need, doubling his incredible efforts this year.
Stephen Wakefield, 59, completed his first pram push in 1998 with his eight-month-old son Daniel in tow.
He's carried on the tradition on Children in Need Day every year since, with Pudsey Bear eventually taking Daniel's place in the pram.
Stephen upped his efforts this year by walking back to Ilkley after just a short break in Leeds.
He completed the 34-mile trip in just over 13 hours, battling through the odd shower, raising more than £3,000 on his JustGiving page.
The Alwoodley dad has now raised more than £80,000 for the charity through the pram push over the last two decades and a further £33,000 through other fundraising efforts.
Stephen told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "Captain Tom gave me a little incentive this year - if he can do 100 laps and down his drive, then I can go to Leeds and back.
"It's the one thing I knew wasn't going to fail this year. We've had anniversaries, birthdays and funerals affected, but I knew you'd be able to do walking and pram pushing.
"This year seemed to be special and strange and since I couldn't take collections on the street I did the full route.
"I'm humbled by the messages people put up and want to say thank you for supporting me. I'm just a regular guy and this is just very close to my heart."
BBC Children In Need has raised more than £37 million following its 40th anniversary show on Friday.
The annual fundraiser, which first aired in 1980, featured appearances from stars including footballer Marcus Rashford, pop stars Kylie Minogue and Dolly Parton, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and fitness guru Joe Wicks.
Shawn Mendes, Cher, Nile Rodgers and Robbie Williams were among those to provide musical entertainment during the programme.
Mel Giedroyc, one of the presenters of the live show, thanked viewers for their support as it was announced that a total of £37,032,789 had been raised.
“Children In Need has been going for an astonishing 40 years and we have only been able to do so because of you,” she said.
“Despite the challenges that we have come up against this year, and will continue to face while this pandemic plays out, we are strong because the hearts of the people who keep these projects alive are strong.”
The One Show’s Rickshaw Challenge contributed £4,750,819 towards the total raised.
The annual event, which was run by TV presenter Matt Baker, was forced to be completed virtually by a team of cyclists after one of the film crew tested positive for coronavirus.
Manchester United forward Rashford also delivered a heartfelt plea for people to help prevent youngsters from going hungry as he reflected on his own experiences of going without food while growing up.
The sportsman has recently been involved in a high profile campaign for children from poorer backgrounds to be given access to free meals during the school holidays.
During the programme, it was also announced that Wicks had raised £2,108,229 by leading a 24-hour fundraising fitness class.
The fitness instructor, who was presented with a gold Blue Peter badge, told the programme it was “the longest day and night of my life”.
The music video for this year’s Children in Need charity single, which was released on Friday, was also played for the first time.
The group of performers, titled the Radio 2 Allstars, were filmed singing Oasis ballad Stop Crying Your Heart Out outdoors.
The footage was interspersed with clips of children playing.
The programme was presented by Giedroyc, Alex Scott, Stephen Mangan and Chris Ramsey.
Opening the programme, Scott said: “You may be at home again, but you are not alone.
“Together we can get through this and more importantly, together, we can help change lives.”
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.