Favourite Things: Spectacular seven hills of Sheffield bring a sense of theatre
Nick Challenger grew up in Killamarsh on the outskirts of Sheffield and he still lives there with his partner John. Nick owns his own hair salon, Nicholas James, in Kiveton. He is probably best known, though, for his work with two community theatre groups, Wales Musical Theatre Company and Wales Methodist Church Pantomime Players, who perform shows annually at Sheffield's Montgomery Theatre and the Acorn Theatre in Worksop, where their Show Stoppers 2016 will run from September 14 to 17. He is also a trustee of the Montgomery and is a member of the newly-established Friends of the Montgomery, established to fund important restoration for the city centre theatre. When he's not performing or directing, Nick also provides wigs and hair for many of the amateur shows at both the Montgomery and the Lyceum Theatre.
seven hills of Sheffield
The landscape of Sheffield must be the most picturesque of any city in the UK. Wherever you go there’s a hill to climb or a slope to descend. Around every corner there’s another spectacular view to be enjoyed and I love the fact that on a winter’s day you can look out and see the snow on the Derbyshire peaks. The hills also mean it’s a great city for keeping fit because you’re never on the flat for more than a couple of minutes – you’re going to have to stretch those leg muscles! I know they say that Rome is built on seven hills too but I think this is one instance in which Sheffield really does have the edge – even if we don’t have the Trevi Fountain! And when they wrote ‘The hills are alive with the sound of music’ they could just as easily have been thinking about Sheffield as Salzburg.
The Peace Gardens
I know there was some controversy when they first redesigned the Peace Gardens in the city centre but I really do love the atmosphere of this renovated green space right in the heart of the city, especially on a sunny day. The area is now very cosmopolitan with the many eating outlets that give a continental evening on a summer’s evening. There’s something quite captivating about the mixture of grass and running, splashing water. And then as night falls all the tree lights begin to twinkle and you really do appreciate how beautiful this small oasis in the city centre really is.
The Cutler’s Hall
What a magnificent building, hiding away behind an unremarkable and plain frontage. In that sense it’s a little like Sheffield’s own Tardis – all that splendour and heritage and yet you’d hardly notice it as you walk along Church Street. It’s typical of Sheffield in that it doesn’t make a big song and dance about itself. I have clients who have been past Master and Mistress of this amazing industrial company that keeps the heritage of Sheffield alive. They also do remarkable things for good causes with the Master Cutler’s Charity this year supporting both St Luke’s and Rotherham Hospices. I was lucky once to have a private tour of this amazing building. The Montgomery Theatre
I am proud to be a trustee and fundraiser for this amazing little theatre, the home of amateur theatre in Sheffield. Again, it’s one of those buildings that many people probably walk past without even noticing it is there, but the truth is that it provides a venue for Sheffield theatre companies who otherwise would find it extremely difficult to perform in the city centre. As a venue it’s had its ups and downs – including a notorious fire back in the 1970s – but it’s survived through the decades and now really does need some TLC if is going to continue to provide the level of service that a city like Sheffield needs.
Our many food festivals
Many years ago Sheffield didn’t have that much of a reputation for fine food and you would even have struggled to find a decent restaurant in the city centre. But look how things have changed, with areas like Leopold Square and Millennium Square packed with a real extensive range of places to eat. And on top of all that the varied food festivals in Fargate and The Peace Gardens are a great addition to the city, bringing foods from many cultures throughout the year. I love shopping at these events because you can indulge, try and buy. Again, I think it’s one of those things that Sheffield ought to be shouting about much more.
It’s a sure sign that I grew up locally because I couldn’t live without this famous – well, famous locally – relish on my pie and peas. I have friends and family all over the country and they can never wait to visit, just so they can stock up on Hendo’s! I’m not at all sure why the word hasn’t spread on a much greater scale.