The number 44 has a deep significance for Richard McCann, the son of the Yorkshire Ripper’s first victim.
It was in the 44th week of 1975 that his mother Wilma McCann was brutally murdered by the serial killer and he and his sisters were told: “Your Mum has gone to Heaven. You won’t be seeing her any more.”
Life, which had never been easy, became even harder and Richard went off the rails, serving time in prison for drugs offences.
However he turned his life around and is now a motivational speaker, who has delivered more than 2,100 presentations around the world, inspiring audiences with his story of overcoming adversity, and sharing his powerful iCan approach.
Last Monday, the 20th anniversary of his release from HMP Leeds, saw him on a train to Leeds, doing a pop-up presentation on Facebook Live, when he was challenged by a follower to do 44 talks in 44 days.
The following day he popped into the Toast Love Coffee cafe in Harehills and got talking to the owner, who suggested he do a talk there. He decided then to do 44 in one day, August 3.
“It’s a five-minute talk and the message is that we can overcome change with self belief. It’s amazing what an ‘I can’ mind set can do,” he said.
So far 25 city centre businesses, including career advisors Aspire-igen, Yorkshire Building Society and Lloyds Bank have signed up.
Each are being asked to donate £44 to the cafe, while Richard will raise money for the Samaritans.
The father of three, whose fourth book Just A Man is out later this year, said: “I’ve always been drawn to the number.
“What was incredible to discover was the night that Mum died, Peter Sutcliffe went home to his mother-in-law’s at 44, Tanton Crescent.
“For me the number’s not a negative thing, it’s almost like a memorial to my Mum.”
He added: “I was moved by what they do at the cafe - they give meals to people who are struggling and ask them to pay what they feel like paying. It’s the kind of place my Mum would have gone as a child.”
He volunteered as a Samaritan for four years and recently stumbled across an alarming incident where a girl was threatening to self harm. He said: “They were there when I needed them back in 1994 after watching something shocking on TV that reminded me of what happened to my Mum. You don’t have to look very far for constant reminders that mental health is a massive problem.
“I’m much more at peace now. Life is hard juggling life and children, but it’s fantastic, not least because I have three wonderful children.
“What happened to my Mum gave me courage and I’m passing that onto my children and they are doing things I wouldn’t have dreamed of when I was a child.”
Richard is still looking for businesses to get involved.
Visit his blog at www.richardmccann.co.uk/blog/ where there are also details of his Just Giving page.