Favourite Things: Why Sheffield hits the right note in so many ways

Alex Richie is a director of the Rotary Clubs of Sheffield's "Music in the Gardens" festival; he has taken part in the Telegraph's Favourite Things feature and one of his choices is the city's parks and gardens.
Alex Richie is a director of the Rotary Clubs of Sheffield's "Music in the Gardens" festival; he has taken part in the Telegraph's Favourite Things feature and one of his choices is the city's parks and gardens.

Alex Richie lives in Millhouses and is a director of the Rotary Clubs of Sheffield’s Music in the Gardens, offering three nights of live music in the Botanical Gardens from tomorrow (Friday) until Sunday. Born in Edinburgh, Alex relocated to Sheffield in 1979 to take a job offer with the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive. During the 1980s and while still working with SYPTE, Alex became a pioneering figure in the introduction of the Supertram in Sheffield, ending his career in 1998 as director general of the SYPTE. Now retired, Alex spends his time balancing duties as the city’s leading Rotarian and chairing the Advisory Committee of Sheffield Foyer, a hostel for homeless teenagers, with catching up on his beloved sports, namely all things tennis alongside playing the bagpipes for the Caledonian Society of Sheffield, of which he has been a member for over 30 years.

The People

Places aren’t defined by their bricks and mortar, but by the people who live there. I can’t think of a better example of this than the steel city itself. You will be hard pressed to find a better group of people who work hard, play hard, care for each other, share a great sense of humour, and of course not forgetting the good old fashioned Yorkshire grit which means fools aren’t suffered gladly.

Our location

Sheffield is perfectly located. The M1 and M18 are on our doorstep, providing links to the coast, the capital and of course, not forgetting nearby Manchester and Leeds. No car? No problem in Sheffield! Our excellent railway connections can take you virtually anywhere in comfort.

Public Transport

One of the proudest moments of my career was helping to bring Supertram to Sheffield and I see it as part of my lasting legacy to the city. I vowed when I retired that I would never comment on local transport matters but I think an extended Supertram network, following in the footsteps of Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham, would help to connect all corners of the city, while offering the potential to reach out to our neighbouring towns and villages.

Botanical Gardens

and green spaces

Ask any Sheffielder and they’ll proudly tell you that it’s the greenest city in the UK and I feel very privileged that there are so many green areas on our doorstep for people to enjoy. Right on our doorstep we have the best of them all; the Peak District National Park. The Botanical Gardens have a special place in my heart. Over the years, through Music in the Gardens I’ve spent a lot of time there and I always enjoy seeing the transformation from a quiet, peaceful area to one which is packed with energy when the live bands take to the stage. The curator does a fine job maintaining the gardens and within just a few hours of the last chord being played, they are returned to pristine condition.

Bramall Lane

As an exiled “Hibee”, I found a new footballing love in 1979 when I saw the Argentinian midfield maestro Alex Sabella turn out for the Blades. Having quickly mastered the words of the Greasy Chip Butty song I soon became a regular visitor to the Lane, following their rollercoaster highs and lows over the years. I’m looking forward to seeing United reignite the rivalry with their neighbours next season.

Rotary Clubs

I’m very honoured to be a Rotarian and a member of the Rotary Club of Abbeydale. There are four Rotary clubs within the city boundaries and several more in the surrounding areas. People are often unsure as to what a Rotary club “does” and the truth is, we are just a group of ordinary men and women who volunteer our spare time to help others less fortunate than ourselves.

Broomcroft Nursing Home

To some this may seem an unusual choice but it’s become a very special place for me. My wife of well-nigh 50 years has been residing at Broomcroft for the past 11 years and I can’t thank the manager and her staff enough for the loving care and attention they have shown to Maureen as well as the support they have given to me.