John Nicholson, 50, and his wife, Gail, have been running their library project, called “Omegaview”, for the past 14 years in Hillview, Lavender Hill, where they encourage children to read and do their homework.
John was nominated for the South African Hero award, an initiative by e.tv, which celebrates and honours hardworking people in their communities.
The dad of two made headlines and attracted attention even from as far afield as London and Sweden in March last year, when the Daily Voice first reported on the story.
He has over 5 000 books in his garage and a container which he has converted into a library for children from the community.
John, who works as an upholsterer, also feeds the children hot meals and helps them with their homework, while inspiring them to read.
His library is called “Siyafunda”, which means to read.
After John’s story went viral on social media, he received thousands of book donations and was interviewed by radio and TV stations, while several MECs also visited his library.
John says he was surprised and humbled when he learnt he’s been named a hero by e.tv.
“You don’t work in your community to be recognised. I was nominated by someone in Johannesburg whom I don’t even know. I am humbled,” he says.
When the Daily Voice visited John on Monday, his garage was filled with over 200 Christmas gifts, which will be handed out to the dozens of children who attend his library.
There were also 60 containers of food hampers and the gifts - sweets, stationery and toys - have been donated by people from, among others, Pretoria, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
“The idea is to put a smile on the children’s faces because many do not know what it is to have a Christmas gift or tree,” he says.
Geoff Hookins, the producer for South African Hero, says they have produced a documentary about John and feel honoured to share his story.
“John Nicholson will be our South African Hero fo February 2018. It will play daily on both e.tv and our 24-hour news channel eNCA,” Geoff explains.
“South African Heroes celebrates the hard work done by ordinary South Africans who go out of their way and beyond their means to improve the lives of people in their communities.”