How Broomhill in Sheffield stepped up to sustain its festival

Broomhill Festival 5 A Side Tournament: Nether Green supporters Margaret and Beth Peach (2 3/4) applaud Beth's brother after a victory
Broomhill Festival 5 A Side Tournament: Nether Green supporters Margaret and Beth Peach (2 3/4) applaud Beth's brother after a victory

The Broomhill Festival returns for its 43rd year this weekend - and there’s been a big change behind the scenes.

A new organising committee has taken over after the old group disbanded in 2016, and this time volunteers have focused on putting together a more streamlined, week-long programme.

Michael Hannon, former University Librarian at Sheffield University Library,  has written a book about his quest to trace the story of a piano his mother bought on a whim at an Irish country auction in 1977. Its a Broadwood  the sort of square piano played by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, various Jane Austen heroines and Captain Scott (who took one to the Antarctic with him). 
 17 August 2015.  Picture Bruce Rollinson

Michael Hannon, former University Librarian at Sheffield University Library, has written a book about his quest to trace the story of a piano his mother bought on a whim at an Irish country auction in 1977. Its a Broadwood  the sort of square piano played by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, various Jane Austen heroines and Captain Scott (who took one to the Antarctic with him). 17 August 2015. Picture Bruce Rollinson

“There was a feeling that it got a bit too big - it was two-and-a-half weeks last year,” said Shelagh Marston, who chairs the new, 10-strong committee that came forward to sustain the festival.

Among the highlights for 2017 is an event with a heartfelt meaning. St Mark’s Church on Broomfield Road is hosting a community gathering on June 17 inspired by The Great Get-Together, a series of events across the country held in memory of the murdered West Yorkshire MP Jo Cox, coinciding with the first anniversary of her tragic death.

A craft fair, children’s parade and a talk by author Lydia Monks at Broomhill Library are planned from 1.30pm, while Howard Middleton - the former Bake-Off contestant - is to judge the Great Broomhill Bake-Off.

This Saturday two concerts will help to launch the festival.

Robin Ireland, a former violist with the Lindsay Quartet who is now head of chamber music at the Birmingham Conservatoire, will join professional violinist Hannah Roberts to play works by Mozart and Bach for a ‘coffee concert’ at St Mark’s from 10am.

Then, at the same venue, the Sheffield Bach Choir will offer ‘music for a summer evening’ from 7.30pm.

The festival’s five-a-side football tournament, open to children in Year Two to Year Nine at school, returns on Sunday at the Goodwin Sports Centre from midday.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, local history walks promise to explore the heritage of Broomhill’s four oldest pubs - the Nottingham House, the Fox and Duck, the York and the Broomhill Tavern.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, writer and former Sheffield University librarian Michael Hannon is speaking about his book ‘Mrs Findlay’s Broadwood Square Piano’ at 7.30pm in Broomhill Library.

Michael’s book tells the tale of an 1804 piano that he keeps at home in Ranmoor.

Four more concerts are happening across Wednesday and Thursday, including appearances by the Sheffield Music Academy and Anne Padget.

Also on Thursday, entrepreneurial young people from Buzz Sheffield will be collecting funds with a charity car wash at the Rutland Hotel from 1pm to 5pm - a guarantee is being made that cars will be washed in 10 minutes.

The following day, an impromptu play is being produced from 7.30pm in the upper room at St Mark’s. The play - Duck! - has an eco-friendly message and is inspired by a shipping accident 25 years ago that resulted in 28,000 plastic bath toys being washed into the North Pacific.

Gardens will be open to the public across the festival’s two weekends. Three homes on Endcliffe Edge are some of the properties involved.

Organisers of each event have been encouraged to donate proceeds to their own choice of charities - the Cathedral Archer Project and Grow Sheffield are among the causes set to benefit. Entries for a children’s ‘art on a postcard’ competition will be displayed in shop windows throughout the suburb.

“We feel we know how to do things now, but it’s been a steep learning curve,” said Shelagh.

“Things for next year are already looking positive. There’s certainly still a feeling that we are a community, and this is one way of expressing it.”

n Visit Broomhill Festival for details.