A Midsummer Night’s Dream of Sheffield

Drama teacher Claire Pender in the High Storrs School drama studio.
Drama teacher Claire Pender in the High Storrs School drama studio.

Favourite Things: High Storrs drama teacher Claire Pender examines the joys of the city

Claire Pender was born in Sheffield and lives in Carter Knowle with Sean, Millie and Patrick.

She is assistant headteacher at High Storrs School and holds responsibility for teaching and learning and professional staff development.

She teaches drama at the school and co-directed of this year’s school production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was performed on Friday and Saturday at the Crucible Theatre as part of the Sheffield Children’s Festival. (Sheffield Theatres box office: 249 6000).

Crucible Theatre

I’m passionate about theatre and feel that we are so lucky to have Sheffield Theatres on our doorstep. I am very proud to be a trustee of Sheffield Theatres and have deepened my understanding about all aspects of the organisation since being on the board. Having had a long relationship with the Crucible, it’s great to be able to give something back.

Performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a professional venue such as the Crucible is an amazing opportunity for our students. It’s something they will never forget. We have been working hard all year. As always, we have an amazingly talented cast and our play has some really stunning contemporary dance in it.

High Storrs School

Perhaps an obvious choice but I have been at High Storrs since 1993 and now feel part of the furniture! I have had a very long and varied career here at the school, starting as a trainee teacher. The school has gone through a lot of changes during my time here, not least the recent major building programme. The 1933 Art Deco main school building has been restored sensitively and the new buildings bring the school into the 21st century. To mark the completion of the building programme, I worked as part of a team with headteacher Ian Gage to help organise the grand opening last September, which saw over 2,000 former staff, pupils and members of the community through our doors. David Blunkett MP was our guest speaker and it was a very special day to see so many familiar faces from over the years.

Ecclesall Road

Every family has its own traditions and one of ours is tucking into our Saturday brunch at Relish every week on Eccy Road. The staff there are superb – so friendly, it is a great place to go. Head chef Jack cooks the best ‘Full Monty’ breakfast, and the kids love playing the wide variety of board games available while drinking a hot chocolate extravaganza! After brunch, it’s lovely to walk up Eccy Road towards Hunters Bar and Sharrowvale Road, browsing in the shops and soaking up the lively atmosphere.

Virgin Gym

The whole family are members and sport is a big part of all our lives. Having grown up watching my lovely Dad running marathons, I try my best to keep fit and follow in his footsteps. I’ve completed the London Marathon twice and have run the Sheffield Half Marathon many times! Our daughter Millie swims for the squad at Virgin and enjoys competing in galas. Our son, Patrick, meanwhile, is football mad and his ambition (or at least his Dad’s ambition!) is to play for Liverpool! Last year I completed my first-ever triathlon and this year I’m running the Great Yorkshire Run in aid of Diabetes UK. This charity is very close to my heart, as Patrick was recently diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1. We have had so much support as a family from the diabetes specialist team in Sheffield. I want to raise as much as I can and would appreciate any donations to www.justgiving.com/Claire-Pender0.

Sheffield parks

We are surrounded by greenery in Sheffield and are fortunate to have access to its many amazing parks, which we often take for granted. Having children makes you rediscover the parks around you. Each of our parks has something unique for everyone. My kids love scootering at Millhouses Park, climbing in the playground at Endcliffe Park and feeding the animals at Graves Park. I grew up being taken to these parks and have lots of special memories of them, especially being taken with my sister to the lido at Millhouses by our Grandma.

City Centre

I’ve enjoyed seeing our city develop in recent years although I have distinct memories of how the city centre was as a child growing up. I have a Pete McKee print at home which reminds me of being taken to gaze in wonder at the marvel that was the fish tank in the Hole in the Road. Recent regeneration has certainly brought fresh life to the city with a great variety of hotels, bars and restaurants. Walking from the train station past the Millennium Gallery and Winter Garden and up to the Peace Gardens really brings home the extent of the improvements to the heart of the city. Cole Brothers has been a permanent feature in my life. As a small child, my mum used to take me to Coles for new shoes and I remember sitting up high on the raised platform having my feet measured. I felt ever so posh! Buying shoes continues to be a favourite hobby.

Peak District

I have fond memories of family Sunday outings as a young girl walking around Burbage and climbing on the rocks. Sean and I take our kids there and the stunning scenery amazes me every time. We also enjoy regular trips to Bakewell, Chatsworth and Padley Gorge. We are lucky to have some fantastic pubs to choose from and I think my favourites ha