Favourite Things: ‘Don’t underestimate our influence globally’

Mark Wheeler.
Mark Wheeler.

Mark Wheeler has worked at the cutting edge of technology and internet service provision for the last 20 years. Having been part of the senior management teams at Sheffield-based ISPs Plusnet, Peerex, Ask4, and Metrona, he couldn’t resist the challenge of using TV whitespace to deliver affordable, reliable connections to some of the most remote environments, and Whitespace Technology Ltd. was formed in 2016.Mark grew up in Crookes and Walkey, attended Westways Juniors and King Edward VII schools and also swam for Sheffield Boys and competed regionally at athletics.An acclaimed musician from an early age, Mark was Foxes music UK’s young organist of the year 1984 -third place, and went on to be a professional recording artist with major record labels.


5 MINUTES FROM THE PEAKS

Bakewell river scene

Bakewell river scene

We are spoilt for choice when it comes to getting outdoors. My wife Samantha and I visit Bakewell and the surrounding area at least once a week. Sheffield is a leafy city, but the fact we have that environment on the door step is a real bonus.

Broomhill

A favourite of mine from my teens, I spent hours in Record Collector picking up the rare and wonderful LPs that got me started in the music industry, while the Broomhill Tavern was a Friday night haunt for my old school mates.

I challenged myself to do the whole Christmas shop, food and presents in the Fulwood Road precinct, and it was easy, which shows the depth of great local businesses we have.

Broomhill is always buzzing with students, young professionals and families, keeping the area fresh, relevant and community-driven.

Makers and Doers

Sheffield is famed for making innovations in manufacturing – mention Sheffield steel or cutlery anywhere in the world and we are still famed for quality.

After the 1980s and the closing of some forges and plants, you felt a change coming, and the 90s brought an influx of technology start-ups and innovators in the software and gaming industries. We really should shout more about these, as they lead to some great brands recognised the world over.

I’d like to think I was a small part of that with the growth and success of PlusNet, I joined a small business that grew to be a national brand, with a no-nonsense attitude to get things done.

But I still remember our CEO Lee Strafford saying, you hear about those cool Silicon Valley businesses with great ideas, growth, and environments with crazy valuations – well this is it, we just happen to be in Sheffield!

Music

We have a great legacy of music – Human League, ABC, Arctic Monkeys to name but three, as well as great Studios like FON and the Steelworks, and live venues like the Limit and the Boardwalk.

People often talk about the diversity of Sheffield’s music and reach, but you cannot under estimate the city’s influence worldwide. Seeing Def Leppard’s Hysteria sell more than 25 million copies worldwide, including 12 million in the US, was a real eye opener for me as a teen. Not only was singer Joe Elliot from my school, but the music they ‘exported’ could eclipse the manufacturing sales of a small country’s GDP, and act as inspiration to any kid with a guitar and some attitude.

Sporting Sheffield

The region is becoming internationally renowned for its model of sporting development. We always aim to be at the forefront of innovations like the World Student Games, and the facilities and skills that brought.

Sheffield is the home of the world’s oldest football club, the modern rules were penned here, and it’s the home of the world’s greatest football team, Sheffield Wednesday – just a shame we don’t have a second team in the city to create some credible rivalry!

Just Sheffield

The most interesting part of my job is seeing parts of the world and realising Sheffield has several ingredients – its countryside, people, humour, industry, and heritage, that you can not replicate.

Sheffield often gets overlooked from the optics of London and internationally, but there’s always a development happening. We’re a city of makers and doers, and that’s what makes Sheffield great!