Kevin Bradley is Sheffield born and bred and is director of St Wilfrid’s Centre for the homeless, vulnerable and socially excluded on Queens Road. He has worked there for over 21 years after originally volunteering his services for a few weeks after being made redundant from his job as sales director in the 1990s recession.
The day centre provides welfare and educational opportunities for vulnerable people. For many years, Kevin has had a dream of building a residential centre for the less fortunate, with the aim of helping them to move on and live independently. Planning permission has now been approved for the site ,which is only a stone’s throw from the existing centre, and all he needs now is £1.8m. Kevin lives in Dronfield with his wife, Lorraine, and recently became a proud grandfather to Rosie, his daughter Victoria’s baby.
I have always had a great interest in music and one of my favourite things of the sixties was excitedly awaiting the pop charts to be read out on a Sunday evening on the radio. The anticipation of waiting to hear if a new entry by the Beatles had gone straight to number one or if the Rolling Stones had beaten them to it was a great joy. My favourite record of all time was Hey Jude by The Beatles which still brings shivers to my spine and not far behind that was Sheffield’s very own Joe Cocker’s version of With a Little Help from My Friends. These records bring back such great memories that I can almost taste the days gone by.
As an avid reader and a lover of books, one of my greatest pleasures is to walk around an old bookshop flicking through the books to get the feel of them. I have many favourite authors including George Orwell and Arthur Koestler and my favourite book is J D Salinger’s haunting novel of Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye.
A quote that made a great impression on me was from Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, when he said, ‘Things are never as bad in reality as they are in the imagination’. So when you are dreading work on a wet Sunday afternoon in February, do not worry because Monday morning won’t be that bad after all. As Koestler said, ‘Trees only grow to a certain height, even the trees of suffering’.
One of my favourite pastimes is walking in the Peak District and over the years I have walked hundreds of miles in one of the most beautiful areas in the world.
Every year for the last 14 years I have organised a charity walk for St Wilfrid’s Centre, where Bishop John Rawsthorne, the Bishop of Hallam and other supporters undertake a sponsored walk for the centre.
My favourite walk is always the last one and in 2011 we started from Monsal head taking in Tansleydale and Litton village before lunching at Tideswell.
The walk continued over the Limestone Way and down to Millers Dale where we joined the Monsal Trail and walked the last few miles through the recently opened tunnels before enjoying a welcome drink at the Monsal head Hotel.
The walks were so popular that volunteer, Diane Russell wrote a book, ‘The Bishop’s Walks – The first ten years’, which is being sold in aid of the centre.
My favourite visitor
Seldom has a day gone by when I am not asked about the exciting visitor we had at St Wilfrid’s last year. The centre featured in the Channel 4 TV programme, Secret Millionaire, and ever since the question I am constantly asked is ‘Did you guess who she was?’
Simrin Choudhrie, our benefactor, came to St Wilfrid’s Centre and well before all was revealed about her wealth we formed a wonderful relationship and to this day we are like a father and daughter.
Simrin thought so much of the centre that she named her baby Wilfrid after us. I now visit her regularly in her luxurious home in Belgravia in London.
The Beautiful Game
Anyone who knows me will not be surprised to learn that my very favourite thing is Sheffield United and my favourite place since I was five years old has been ‘beautiful downtown Bramall Lane’. The passion I feel for the Blades is just the same now in my 61st year as it was when I was getting on the bus all the way from Parson Cross when I was young.
Football, I always say, brings back sanity into life because, whatever happens around us, football continues to go on in much the same way. Whether you are a homeless person or a millionaire, everyone can have an opinion about football and each and every one of them is valid.
For people who have nothing, to be able to talk about their favourite game can be a very important part of getting them through life. Football is not just the 90 minutes but more about looking at the fixtures, league tables, transfers and all the banter that goes with it.
When all in life is bleak there is always a ball to be kicked and for many people that I meet, football is all they have to hold on to.
Hope for the future
I hope one day to be able to take Rosie, my granddaughter, to Bramall Lane to watch my beautiful Blades, but her father Neil may have something to say about that. He is a fervent Sheffield Wednesday supporter. I suppose we all can’t be perfect! May the Blades go with you!