Jillian Thomas becomes the president of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce this week. She is only the second woman to hold the post in the organisation’s 154-year history. Jillian says she looks forward to advancing the city’s diverse business interests in the region, as well as right across the country and globe. An independent financial adviser, Jillian set up her own company, Future Life Wealth Management, in Renishaw in 2010. Last month, her seven-strong team of professionals was listed in the New Model Adviser’s Top 100 financial planners in the UK for the third year running.
I started buying dress fabrics off Richard and Diana when they started their business on the Moor more than 40 years ago. I was already six foot tall by the age of 14 so my mother had to make most of my clothes for me, including my school uniform. My business relationship with Fine Fabrics has only strengthened over the years and I continue to buy beautiful materials to make up everything from my work suits to my evening dresses. Richard will even call me up when he gets in a new bolt of fabric he thinks I’ll love and put a piece aside for me to look at. His Hillsborough shop is an emporium of loveliness with curtain and upholstery fabrics too, sourced from all over the world and British woollen mills.
St Luke’s and Ashgate
I have to mention both these incredible places. Many people are a bit scared of walking into a hospice for the first time but I have visited both and I think people may be surprised to find what positive places they are. Talking about end of life care and considerations is not something a lot of people want to do, but in my profession I have to sensitively broach this subject with my clients. This is not a subject we can ignore. Hospices provide such an important service very well indeed; and I think it is important to support and recognise the significance of St Luke’s and Ashgate in our communities.
Mosborough Hall Hotel
Mosborough Hall is close to my home and I am such as regular customer that as I approach I can see the bar staff already reaching down the bottle of Hendrick’s gin from the shelf and measuring me out a drink. Set within a 12th century manor house and surrounded by well-tended gardens, Mosborough Hall features a brasserie and bar where the service, ambience and food are all excellent. We also put clients up in the rooms there and, like so many other beautiful hotels set in and around our city, the place is a credit to Sheffield.
Whitby’s Fish and Chips
Whenever I ask my 89-year-old mum where she’d like me to take her to eat – ‘anywhere she likes’, I say – her answer is always Whitby’s Fish and Chips in Catcliffe, or Mr Chippy’s as she calls it. Fantastic grub, great service and at a good price. She and I specify how we’d like our haddock with or without skin and batter – and get the meal we love every time. The place is fast becoming a local institution.
Lyceum and Crucible
I love going to the theatre and especially any musical production and feel extremely lucky to have two such wonderful venues as the Lyceum and Crucible on my doorstep. I understand the theatres are gaining a national reputation and attracting people up from London by train to see shows rather than the other way around. Stepping inside to see a show is, for me, sheer escapism and I am certainly looking forward to seeing the world premiere of ‘Flowers for Mrs Harris’ and the Broadway classic ‘Guys and Dolls’ in 2016.
Bolsover Cruise Club
I love my cruises. I have travelled by luxury liner and basic no-frills bath tub all over the world, from Europe to the Caribbean, and there is only one place I go to sort out my precious holidays. The team at Bolsover Cruise Club provide an outstanding service. They know my number now and answer the phone to me: “Hello Ms Thomas, how are you today?” Booking and planning a holiday is part of the experience and being assured of excellent service and value-for-money is a boon. This is one of my favourite businesses!
Collection’s secret store
I was lucky enough to be given a private tour of this treasure trove of artefacts from Sheffield’s past, carefully stored in a secret location. It is occasionally opened for tours if you can get on to one – and our party didn’t want to leave when we were allowed behind the scenes. We were fascinated by everything from the archaeological finds made in our area to the artefacts from our rich metallurgy heritage - paintings, maps, Egyptian and Chinese antiquities.