How art, countryside and village life raise the spirits

Deborah Holmes, Managing Director of Sandersons at Fox Valley, pictured by the mural ny artist Pete McKee. Picture: Marie Caley NSTE Holmes MC 1
Deborah Holmes, Managing Director of Sandersons at Fox Valley, pictured by the mural ny artist Pete McKee. Picture: Marie Caley NSTE Holmes MC 1

Deborah Holmes was born in the mining village of Brierley, near Barnsley, where her father, Dennis, worked as a collier.

When Deborah was six years old a back injury forced Dennis to look for less physically strenuous work and the family moved to Stocksbridge, where he took up an office job at Samuel Fox’s steelworks – just a few yards from where Deborah has this month launched her latest business venture, Sandersons department store, at the Fox Valley development in Stocksbridge. Deborah went to school in Stocksbridge and university in Sheffield and then Manchester before moving home to north Sheffield to set up a local newspaper in 1986.

The Weekly Trader ran for 10 years before being taken over by the Barnsley Chronicle group.

Over the next few years Deborah focused on her daughters Rebecca, now 21, and Lucy, 18, as well as helping her husband Mark Dransfield build the family’s property retail business Dransfield Properties.

Deborah also spent many years playing a key role in fundraising for the Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity and was also a governor at Ashdell School in Broomhill.

Bolsterstone Village

When we first moved to Stocksbridge I was almost seven years old and went to Bolsterstone Village School for a short time. The old school building is now the village hall but the walk down the hill to Ewden Village still reminds me of the exciting times as a child when I used to walk down to play with friends after school. When we were looking for a family home in north Sheffield in 1994 I was sure I wanted to live here and I’ve walked that same walk with my children and now I still do the walk with my dog Betty. My lovely mum Peggy died in 2007 and she’s buried in St Marys Church Yard and it’s nice to feel she is close by. The views around Bolsterstone are stunning at any time of the year and always changing.

Wortley Hall

Beautiful Wortley Hall and Gardens is a real treasure, not just for the lovely Capability Brown gardens and stunning house, but also for the great gardening courses. Better still, popping to the Wortley Arms for a lovely lunch prepared by Andy Gabbitas and his team and a half of Bradfield Farmers Blonde.

Fox Valley

Our new development, on what used to be a steel stock holding yard and the narrow strip mill many years before that, is now a beautiful centre with restaurants, water fountains, an outdoor TV screen and a lovely mix of shops, offices and houses. It’s also just a few yards away from where my dad used to work and I do feel very proud that the company has helped to breathe new life into what had become a very run down and derelict site. My new boutique department store Sandersons sits at the entrance to the centre so we get to see all the daily comings and goings.

Ponti’s Italian Kitchen

A new addition to the Sheffield food scene, but a fantastic one. The owner of Ponti’s from Oxford Circus in London, Stefano Ispani, visited Fox Valley when it was still a building site and fell in love with the area. The food is delicious and the decor beautiful, the Ponti’s staff are really highly trained and Stef’s attention to detail shows in everything they do.

Hunters Bar

I went to Sheffield University and lived at Hunters Bar for a few years, it has always been a great place to hang out and still is. I love a Saturday lunch at Jonty’s then a browse around the quirky shops around there and a visit to another of my favourite things in Sheffield.

Pete McKee’s Month Of

Sundays gallery

I love Pete McKee’s art, he’s so real and manages to capture a feeling or mood perfectly. That’s why we chose Pete to produce our beautiful artwork at Fox Valley. Pete’s gallery on Sharrow Vale Road is such a gem. I must also mention Joe Scarborough whose unique Sheffield paintings are vibrant and full of life. Another talented artist is Matt Cockayne who produces some great pieces celebrating our heritage.


Such a lovely place and very English, especially when it is cricket season. I spent many happy hours feeding the ducks and running round the park when my girls were little. The surrounding countryside is phenomenal. My sister Amanda and I organised a Bradfield Boundary Walk four years ago in memory of our mum and friends came from all over the country to cover the 48 miles in 24 hours.


I don’t get down to EIS as much as I used to but I’ve spent many hours over the years taking the kids to athletics, netball and sports days here. It is such a fantastic facility for Sheffield.