“It feels like coming home,” says the woman in charge of Sheffield’s 800 parks and green spaces.
Lisa Firth, aged 45, has been appointed as Sheffield Council’s new head of Parks and Countryside after a career in the public, private and voluntary sectors.
She will now take charge of the city’s 3,602 hectares of open space, including 95 parks and recreation grounds.
Ms Firth, who was born and raised in Stocksbridge, said: “I’m really excited about taking up this job, especially at a time when Sheffield is making the most of its credentials as The Outdoor City.
There’s nowhere else in the world with that blend of urban life and the outdoors, where industry, commerce and outdoor recreation are so seamlessly combined.
“Being from Sheffield, I’ve seen the city centre transform over the years. I’ve worked in London, Leeds, Birmingham and all over the UK, but this is really the only place with such an attractive and friendly city centre.
“Places like the Winter Garden and the Botanical Gardens really are amazing. To now work here, in the city I call home, is a long-held dream come true.”
Sheffield is famous for its parks, being the only major city to have a national park within its boundary, and also having more trees than any other city in Europe – around two million trees, four for every person.
The city also has 14 Green Flag Award-winning parks; more than any other authority in Yorkshire and the Humber.
Ms Firth began her career working at a high street bank, and progressed through the ranks to management level.
She later moved into the voluntary sector, working as Head of Operations for charity Shelter, and latterly as Director of Operations for a housing charity based in Leeds.
Her career has taken her all over the country, but there’s nowhere quite like Sheffield – The Outdoor City.
Ms Firth said: “What is particularly important to me is ensuring that communities across Sheffield have access to great quality green spaces, regardless of whether they live in more affluent areas or not.
“I’m really looking forward to taking on this challenge to ensure that Sheffield’s green spaces continue to be outstanding places where people can relax, exercise, play and enjoy themselves.”