This is why Mickey Mouse has been walking around Leyland this month

Keep your cats indoors - because Mickey and Minnie Mouse have been spotted on their travels in Leyland.

Wednesday, 24th June 2020, 12:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th June 2020, 12:40 pm
John and Sue Smith have been raising money for St Catherine's Hospice as Mickey and Minne Mouse.

John Smith has been spreading some magic in his hometown this month by walking the streets dressed as the Disney favourite.

John and his wife Sue had planned to dress up as the iconic couple for the annual Moonlight and Memories Walk hosted by St Catherine's Hospice, which was due to take place last Saturday. But as organisers have been forced to cancel the event due to the coronavirus pandemic, the pair decided to instead raise money for the charity by walking 10 miles from Leyland to Tarleton and set a £100 target.

The dad-of-two said: "We thought it'd be quite funny to dress as Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Normally, thousands of people join the Moonlight Walk but as things are a bit different this year, we thought we might as well make it completely different for us."

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John and Suehave taken on their own fund-raiser after the annual Moonlight and Memories Walk hosted by St Catherine's Hospice was cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.

And their flamboyant outfits certainly caught people's attention, with the couple quickly smashing their target and earning themselves plenty of hoots and waves along the way.

"My daughter posted about us on a Tarleton community group on Facebook and the people there went crazy, raising more than £200 in an hour. It's mad," John added.

The 64-year-old was inspired to push himself further by walking 150 miles around Leyland in a month and has so far raised more than £800.

John said: "My daughter said to me, 'Do you know you're famous?'

"Someone had posted a picture of me as Mickey Mouse on the Leyland Hub community page on Facebook and I've had some really good reactions.

"Someone said, 'Does he work for South Ribble Council?'

"And another has asked if I'm looking for cheese while a third said, 'Is it Dominic Cummings going to Durham again?'

"There have been quite a few funny comments. But everyone's been very supportive."

He added: "Some people look at you on the street and think, 'What's he doing?'

"Many wave at you and it's made a lot of people smile."

And as fun as it might be to be the famous mouse, walking in his shoes isn't as easy it seems, with John saying: "The outfit is very warm and the worst thing is the wind because my mouse ears blow off!

"Some of my neighbours have looked at me funnily."

But the couple are used to the attention, having made a tradition out of wearing fun and colourful outfits during the hospice's Moonlight Walk. Two years ago, John caught the eyes of several Coronation Street actresses taking part in the challenge when he donned a pink flamingo costume and had a selfie taken with them. Not shy of wacky attire, he then wore a Pink Panther costume last year while Sue spread some sparkle as a unicorn.

But any funny looks from the community are worth it for John, who added: "It's very important to support St Catherine's. There aren't many hospices like them around. They've been going for a few years and they've built a really good reputation.

"We know people who have used the hospice and we have friends who volunteer there. It's a fantastic charity and the people who work there do an amazing job."

And he's not the only one who thinks so, with the community rallying round to help keep the charity afloat during the pandemic.

"The support from people has really touched me. I'm amazed at how many people have donated money. It's spurred me on to raise some more. We've had lots of anonymous donations. It's amazing that people have been really supportive in these times when many don't have much money themselves," said John.

"Everyone that's contributed knows the money will be well spent, and supporting a local cause always seems more poignant.

"It must be really tough for any charity at the moment. This is an opportunity to raise awareness and a bit more money for the hospice."

But if you haven't caught sight of the famous mouse just yet, don't worry - there's still a chance to spot him as he makes the last of his walks, with Minnie Mouse also stepping back out to reunite the iconic duo.

If you can make a donation towards John's challenge, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-smith176​