How I kickstarted my wonderful life in Sheffield

Christine Tooze.
Christine Tooze.

SheffieldER Christine Tooze is an international speaker and the chief executive of Sheffield’s multi-award-winning alcohol and drug rehabilitation charity Kickstart, this year’s Chamber of Commerce charity of the year. When Christine tells those battling to beat addiction that they are made stronger by what they overcome, she can speak from the heart. A mum of four and ordained minister, she has faced and overcome throat cancer, domestic violence, divorce, single parenthood, working day and night jobs simultaneously, her husband’s dementia and the tragedy of her son losing both his legs.

When she discovered there was a two-year waiting list for help for those in addiction in 1992, she started a drop-in centre and turned her dining room into a detox dormitory. She has raised £2.5m over 17 years. On May 25, she hosts ‘Dealing with Uncertainty’ at The Showroom to raise funds for Kickstart since statutory funding has ceased. Christine lives in Fulwood.

lKickstart: 2780899; email

Just William Hair, Campo Lane

Waking up on a Saturday morning is one of my special times. Picking up fresh almond croissants, I head off to Just William, the best hairdressers in town. Thirty minutes later, waving goodbye to Bill, Vicki and Joanne, I know I am ready to take on the world. Thank you for putting up with my late arrivals, desperate last-minute phone calls, three for the price of two hair dos and never coming away disappointed! Oh, and the coffee with, yes, just the spot of brandy!

Yorkshire humour

12.30pm on a Saturday finds me sitting in my car and listening to Radio 4. The satirical humour is amazing. Then, at 1pm the politicians battle it out. Thank goodness there is no-one else in my car listening to my comments! Saturdays are special. I go to visit the youngest of my sons whose battle with drug addiction inspired me to found Kickstart.

My family

I am so proud of my three sons and daughter. From building to beauty therapy, they are all so talented. My couture fashion designer son Leigh turns up with the most amazing clothes for me to wear, travelling from his home in Brighton three days a week to work with Kickstart. My children repair my car for me, wine and dine me. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I had spent so much time with them as children teaching them how to “make memories,” it has certainly been a blessing back to me. It’s not so important what we do in life, but who we do it with. Then there’s my fantastic grandchildren, especially now they are growing up and have become such good friends. I love to shock them by not behaving myself, teaching them that we have to learn how to live life to the full. Turning up at my grandson’s gigs for his band, and shopping with the girls, whilst my eldest grandson repairs my car. Oh, I am so spoilt by them and I love it!

Smeltings Farm, Ringinglow

Animals have always played an important part in my life. I think one of the most amazing incidents was when I visited my friend Damian at Smeltings Farm. I had looked at his advertisement about working with horses on my desk for over six months before I gave him a call. It wasn’t long before I found myself in a large pen with Banner, a beautiful horse, and began the most amazing adventure of getting to know more about myself by listening to what Banner could show me. I remember after that first time driving home, I found myself just shouting and laughing with exhilaration. I felt I had started a journey of self-discovery. That was one of the most precious moments in my life and one that helped me change my focus and give me the courage to make the changes I needed for the rest of my life.


I think of the most breathtaking countryside surrounding Sheffield and the beauty and peace we can experience by just being in the midst of God’s superb scenery, appreciating the environment we have been given. I have been so privileged to have had parents who took the time to show, tell and explain all about our history, and the interesting folk stories that just keep on unfolding. My father, a local artist, would sit and sketch and then make us walk what seemed miles to see those sights for ourselves. Not so appreciated as children, but most valued now.

Mamas & Leonies

I have been going there for years, disappearing from work to bolt in there for a coffee, think and plan mid-morning or to meet my family when their children were small. Whenever I have wanted to spend time with a friend or have been feeling down, there is something about the atmosphere and friendly faces of Mamas that lifts me up, ready to face the world again. Or maybe it’s their special Italian wine and spaghetti Bolognese.

My faith

Finally, yet the most important aspect to my life, is the faith that God has given me. To experience and see His love in action, people get healed or just a smile when we are down. Knowing that although we may have lost our way, He is so faithful and His mercies are new every morning. I am so grateful for my life and the wonderful things He has allowed me to experience.