Green space, history and hidden corners – Michelle Rawlins on her favourite aspects of Sheffield

I first moved to Sheffield in1995 to complete my journalism exams at what was back then - Stradbroke College, where I also met my husband, Iain, and apart from a nine month spell in Birmingham, I’ve never left.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 17 April, 2019, 12:36
Michelle Rawlins, pictured by the Women of Steel statue. Picture: NSST-03-04-19-Rawlins-1

I’m not sure how long it takes to be classed as a true Yorkshire lass, but I hope I’m getting close as there is nowhere else I class as home.

I’ve worked as freelance journalist for over 20 years, writing for the national newspapers and women’s magazines, specialising in real life stories.

Michelle Rawlins, pictured outside the Crucible. Picture: NSST-03-04-19-Rawlins-3

Last year I ghost wrote ‘A Friend for Christmas’, documenting the extraordinary life of Sheffield’s Mrs Christmas, Gloria Stewart.

I am currently writing a non-fiction book, ‘Women of Steel’ based on the formidable women, who kept the foundry fires burning during World War Two, when their men fold were fighting for ‘King and Country’. Anecdotes from the book can be found on my Facebook page - Michelle Rawlins Author.

 In my free time I run my own kids day out Facebook page, Where Can I Take The Kids Today, to my two children’s delight, who love nothing more than going on a new adventure. 

Kelham Island

 I love this little hidden corner of Sheffield for so many reasons.

Not only does my son, Archie, rock up here every Saturday morning to attend the Discovery STEM club, but it’s home to the most fascinating of museums.

We should never forget our city’s magnificent history and the interactive galleries are perfect for discovering how Sheffield’s steel industry started, progressed and survives today, let alone highlighting the incredible work our Yorkshire women did throughout both wars to ensure our soldiers where kept in the munitions they needed.

A visit to Kelham Island is also never complete for me until I’ve had a coffee and bite to eat at Craft and Dough - who incidentally make the best Nutella doughballs!

Women of Steel Statue

This holds a very special pace in my heart a it is the focus of the book I’m currently writing. These women waited 70 years for their invaluable contribution to be recognised and I hope this permanent statue, along with the campaign spearheaded by the Sheffield Star, will ensure they will not be remembered for generations to come.

The Trans Pennine Trail

We chose to live in Millhouse Green on the northern outskirts of Sheffield for the abundance of green space on offer. As much as I love the city, I’ve always felt the need to be surrounded by countryside.

The trail, which is kept in immaculate condition by a team of dedicated volunteers, is full of hand carved wooden animals, a wild flower meadow, and picture perfect view. It is literally a part of our everyday life. I run on it, my son cycles on it and my little girl, Tilly, spends countless hours collecting sticks and leaves there. We are incredibly lucky to have this fabulous pathway on our doorstep.

The Theatres.

I’ve always felt the North doesn’t get enough credit in the arts world. The Crucible, Lyceum and the City Hall, have always been favourite haunts of ours.

I attended countless musicals with my late mother-in-law, Coleen, who would ring me to book shows as soon as the programme dropped through her letter box.

Now, as well as watching the plethora of grown up and more serious shows on offer, my children are mini-theatre critics in the making. 

Archie still raves about ‘59 Minutes To Save Christmas’ that we watched at the Crucible when he was six, while Tilly, 3, was in her element as she most recently watched The Singing Mermaid.

Fox Valley

Although I used to love a day in Meadowhall, browsing the shops - that’s long since become a distant memory - the novelty wore off at break neck speed when my son constantly complained he was bored and my daughter would run hell for leather into a toy shop, grabbing every doll within reach.

But Fox Valley is winning back my inner love of retail therapy.

Sandersons - the bespoke boutique store, stocks my favourite designers and cosmetics, and the adjacent coffee bar, Zorro, has a kids corner where my daughter can play while I relax with a much-needed  coffee.