John's quest passes another milestone
Published on: 28 Jul 2017
SINGER John Billitteri has reached another milestone in his campaign to collect one million pennies for the charity Help for Heroes.
John, who goes by the stage name of Frankie Johns, boosted his running total at the recent Armed Forces Day in Page Park and now has a staggering 900,000 coins - the equivalent of £9,000.
"Armed Forces Day was fantastic and helped me reach the 900,000 mark, which is a great milestone," the Kingswood dad of two said.
"I didn't expect to be this far ahead at this time. It's quite an achievement and I'm pleased and proud to have got so far. It's all thanks to the generosity of the public because it's them who have done it, not me.
"I'd like to think I can reach the 1,000,000 target this time next year but it's difficult to predict."
Since he launched his campaign four years ago, John has been travelling around Bristol with his bicycle and trailer to highlight his cause.
He is particularly well known around Staple Hill and Kingswood where he regularly sings in pubs and clubs.
Pub-goers know him so well, he doesn't even need to get his collection bucket out - they just come up to him with their unwanted pennies.
A recent donation of 20,000 coins came as a particular surprise.
John said: "An anonymous person left £200 worth of pennies in my porch with a note saying 'Good luck with the rest of your fundraising'. It was absolutely fantastic! I just sat there thinking 'how nice is that?' I've got no idea who it was but they are obviously kind and generous and must think a lot of the charity I'm doing it for."
John has always raised money for various charities through his stage act but it wasn't until his daughter Marisa, an X Factor contestant, sang on a number one charity single for Help for Heroes, he decided to make that particular charity his main focus.
He started the one million pennies campaign in June 2013 after already raising £60,000 for Help for Heroes, which supports service personnel and veterans with injuries and illnesses sustained while serving in the British Armed Forces.
John said Help for Heroes has a special place in his heart: "It's a charity which tries to get people's lives back on track after what they have gone through, both physically and mentally. It aims to raise as much money as possible so people get the help they need in the hope that one day their lives can go back to normal.
"The people of Bristol have really taken to my campaign and I'd like to thank them for that. They have been very generous. I can't wait until I get to the million mark!"
If you would like to donate your spare pennies to help John reach his final target, please call him on 0777 5870129.