Sheffield ‘Saturday job’ memories

Mandy Nunn & electronic toys, Redgates, 1 Nov 1979.
Mandy Nunn & electronic toys, Redgates, 1 Nov 1979.

Richard Wright

Executive director of Sheffield

Chamber of Commerce

My first Saturday job was selling ice cream on Scarborough seafront when I was about 14 years old. I carried on working part-time during school and at university, when, amongst other things, I was a waiter at Cutlers’ Hall in Sheffield.

No matter what the job, young people can learn valuable skills that can take them through their career – from a general work ethic to learning how to interact with different people and handle different situations.

John Highfield

PR Consultant

For anybody growing up in the 1960s, 70s or earlier, Redgates meant birthdays, Christmas and great times on dull days. It was three floors full of toys, a Sheffield institution dream factory for children – and I was lucky enough to work there.

I started as the Saturday boy in the autumn of 1977, just as I was beginning my A-levels and would stay, working Saturdays, holidays and any other time they would have me, through to June 1980, when I landed my first newspaper job. I sold everything from Scalextric to Meccano, Star Wars figures to primitive light sabres, toy trains to farm animals and, of course, fireworks around Bonfire Night.

Looking back it was all a little like an episode of Are You Being Served – crazy, eccentric and great fun. And, thanks to lunchtime conversations with June, Michelle, Cath, Margaret, Jean, Dawn and all the others, I probably knew enough about matters gynaecological by the time I was 18 to pass an A-level in biology!

Charlie Curran

Head chef at The Beauchief

I began training in Leeds as a teenager and got a foot in the catering door by landing a Saturday job at Headingley cricket ground. I was mainly pot-washing to bring in some extra cash alongside my studies, but I was a bit of a dogsbody too.

One day they asked me to take a tray of drinks in to the cricket team after practice. I ended up picking the worst moment to walk in – Ian Botham and the whole team were standing there completely starkers. I made a swift exit and wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry!

Phil Meekin

Head of marketing at Wilson Field

My Saturday job was at a butcher’s shop. The work entailed delivering meat to customers on my bike, followed by a trail of dogs, and then working in the shop. I was given all the menial tasks. I remember being amazed how big a cow’s tongue and liver were and placing sheep and pig heads in the window! 

Now, if I am recruiting a school leaver or graduate, without exception I like to see that they have had a part-time job.

Julie Robinson

Founder of Footprints Accountancy Services

I think being the youngest of four and pulling through an accident where I nearly died gave me the determination to get my first Saturday job aged just 13 at GT News in the former Hole in the Road.

I worked there whenever I could, on Saturdays and after school, earning as much as £100 a week in the holidays. I chose to pack it in to take on a Youth Training Scheme for the princely sum of £27.50 when I started at Yorkshire Bank because I had an eye on my longer-term career prospects.

Ian Pegg

Civil servant, BIS

I started my first Saturday job at ASDA three days after my 16th birthday. To be thrust into this adult world of having to think for myself was one frightening experience.

My job was easy, so I thought: fill the shelves, said my manager. But no-one told me about stock rotation, how to do the simple things like price up the goods. No-one told me how to deal with the public asking questions and expecting me to know the answers. No-one told me it would be hard work.

But the reward was my very first pay packet – the money I had earned. That’s what’s made me realise it was worth it.

Hayley Toothill

Social media specialist, 20:20 Agency

In my first Saturday job, aged 13, I worked as a waitress in a local pub. Serving set meals, I was delivering soup to a table of bikers’ wives when I tripped on a loose strip of masking tape and threw bright orange soup down a woman’s dress. Horrified (and worried I was going to get told off by a big scary biker), I went to the kitchen to get a cloth. It was working at full capacity and the chef was obviously stressed.

When I told him I’d just thrown soup over a customer, he shouted words no 13-year-old should hear, jumped in the air and threw four plates on the floor in anger! When the silence subsided, I jovially cleaned up the woman’s dress, assured her we’d cover her dry cleaning costs and got back to work. He quit the following week. Some people just can’t handle the pressure like a 13-year-old, can they?

Mohammed Mahroof

Consultant chartered surveyor

In the late 70s I got a part-time job. In those days you needed to get the permission of the Education Office to work while still at school. Holding my permission I delivered it to the offices of a Sheffield free newspaper (the Gazette, I think) and I was now in the ranks of working pupils.

Reality set in when over 400 newspapers were delivered to my house which had to be delivered before the end of Friday. It took me over two days to do the delivery. I thought to myself, why have I let myself in for this, should I give up? I didn’t as I was determined to earn my own money.

My job taught me a lot that has stayed with me for most of my life.

Ceris Morris

Head of Fundraising and Partnerships, Museums Sheffield

I was 14 years old, living in Lampeter in rural Wales, itching to get out into the world. My best friend Myfanwy had a job as waitress in Newbridge Café, next door to Emlyn’s the Bakers on Bridge Street. Saturdays were busy with farmers and families in town. My mother had never let my sister have a Saturday job for reasons I could never fathom, though possibly through a misguided sense of propriety. I didn’t say a word to her when I joined Myfanwy one weekend, donned a frilly pinny and served tables all day in the cramped, gloomy room, windows steamed up with the heat fizzling from damp clothes and newly-set perms. We worked from 9am until 6pm, 50p an hour without a break. When I got home, my mother was slightly appalled, my sister just plain mad with me. The sense of independence was exhilarating.

Faye Smith

Director, Keep your Fork Marketing

I used to babysit every Saturday evening for the same couple to earn a fiver which nearly paid for my £6 driving lesson that week. My most regular job was working for my cousin, a car dealer.

I can still remember trying to do my geography A level project while manning his phones – early multitasking experience – and taking large amounts of cash to bank in town on the bus feeling very vulnerable. I also worked in the Hammer and Pincers as bar staff before I went to uni – a real fun team who all went to Fanny’s nightclub at Owler Bar on a Friday with our wages!