Simon Stokes is the managing director of award-winning South Yorkshire company Assured Fire and Security. Although his parents come from Sheffield, Simon grew up in Rotherham. A self-confessed school failure, he served an apprenticeship as an electrician but lost his job in the recession of the early ‘90s – and not long after he set up Assured. Today the company is a multi-million-pound success story with an international list of clients, including some of the biggest names in British commerce and industry. Simon now lives in Bakewell with his wife Karen and their children, Max and Ruby.
Sheffield Wednesday and Hillsborough
SWFC is embedded in our family history. With my mum and dad from High Green and Shiregreen we had no choice but to be Wednesdayites. Since I’ve been building my business and starting a family, visits to Hillsborough have been few and far between. Now, though, the kids are older, and because my daughter Ruby started supporting Manchester United we’ve made a few visits recently and it’s just like old times when I went with my dad and brother, especially at the recent Wycombe game with a 38,000 sell-out – the atmosphere was electric. Thankfully, Ruby is now a Wednesdayite!
This is the best view for two reasons. It’s the first view I get of Sheffield when coming into work. You can see the majority of the hills and suburbs, the train line going through Dore into the city, the university and tower blocks, and on a clear day Tinsley viaduct. This sight gets me in the mood for work.
Going the opposite way, it’s my first view of the Peak District and my automatic switch-off point from work, especially when you dip over the top and Chatsworth and Baslow come into view. I sometimes swing a right to Curbar Edge for a spot of bouldering before tea!
I’ve always admired Pete, from the early days when his cartoons were in the SWFC fanzine to the highs of his fame right now. He has raised Sheffield’s profile with iconic paintings of the people and places and I think he makes people appreciate the place more. I took my son Max, who is a budding artist and cartoonist, to McKee’s gallery on Sharrow Vale Road and I had to drag him out. We always look forward to his cartoons each Thursday in the Telegraph. More importantly, he’s a Wednesdayite!
The Ranmoor Inn
My mate David Cross introduced me to his local. He and some other of my pals who own businesses in Sheffield meet up in here on Fridays after work to share a few swift halfs, relax after a hard week’s work and chew the fat. A proper pub with real ales that’s always busy and one of the few pubs that’s got a piano that gets played!
Fellicini’s and Nice Café, Bakewell
We moved to Bakewell from Rotherham five years ago and we love the place. Me and the kids get up early most weekends and walk Stan the dog through Catcliffe woods, on to the park and up the river Wye. On our return we call into Nice Café in Kings Court for Dime Bar Milkshakes and a double espresso and scone. Evenings has to be Fellicini’s. They serve great Italian food that’s always delicious and consistently good whether it’s brunch, pizza and pasta lunch with the family or dinner with friends. The atmosphere is always vibrant and the manager Chris and his staff always welcome you with a smile – and they’ve got Chatsworth Gold Ale.
If you’re a climber or walker this iconic location is the place to be in the Peak District. Whenever I get a chance me and my pal John get up on to Stanage Climbing can be a bit elitist and some climbers shun this well-known area but it is one the best climbing spots in the region with loads of routes a spitting distance from the car park. I’ve met other climbers here from all over the world, frequently you meet climbers from London who come up for the weekend and this makes me appreciate Sheffield and its close proximity to the Peaks. When the Londoners are in their tents or have a three-hour journey home I just pop over the hill back home or call into The Scotsman Pack in Hathersage.
We used to go on Thursday nights to see bands like The Beatniks and other unknown start-ups like Pulp!
The best memories I have were Fridays at a night called Rise and Sheffield was the place to be. My mate DJ Sully was resident and we always got in for free. The early days were best when the garage and house music Sully played always got the crowd rocking. It was one of the few places where people looked forward to Sully’s set more than the guest DJs. Still, there were some great guest DJs and seeing American DJs like David Morales and Roger Sanchez play there was amazing.
Warp Record shop.
After a hard night partying at Rise I would surface the next afternoon and spend my wages at Warp Records in Division Street. Being a budding DJ I couldn’t resist buying more vinyl than I could afford and Warp was the place to get the latest releases from America. Local DJs Johnny, Dino and Chris Duckenfield were behind the counter and saved the best and newest tracks for us, the temptation when a new track would come in and there would only be a handful was overwhelming and I always spent too much which usually meant beans on toast for the week! I still have over 4,000 records, most with the iconic Warp price sticker on. Happy days!