They said what? Star Interview’s quotes of 2017

Grace Horne, Jenni Murray, Helen Sharman, Rt Rev Dr Pete Wilcox, John Hamshere, Tom Holmes, Helen Mort, Judge Graham Robinson, Ruby Tandoh, Steve Brailey, Ashley Carson, Christopher Dorries, Deborah Chadbourn, Andrew Coombe, Prof Alison Gartland, Richard Eyre
Grace Horne, Jenni Murray, Helen Sharman, Rt Rev Dr Pete Wilcox, John Hamshere, Tom Holmes, Helen Mort, Judge Graham Robinson, Ruby Tandoh, Steve Brailey, Ashley Carson, Christopher Dorries, Deborah Chadbourn, Andrew Coombe, Prof Alison Gartland, Richard Eyre

More than 40 notable people have spoken about their lives and Sheffield to Star interviewer Richard Blackledge over the past 12 months – here are some of the best quotes and highlights from the year’s conversations.

Helen Sharman, first Briton in space:

“I don’t tend to remember my dreams very often. But on the odd occasion I do sometimes have a dream where I’m floating along the space station and stop by a window and look out. The views were absolutely fabulous. There were people trying to make me do all sorts of things after my space flight. There were people who wanted to make huge amounts of money by creating a new celebrity, and while there are certain attractions to that, I knew there was an awfully big downside about having notoriety. Public memory is quite short, and I feel as though I’ve got a perfect life now.”

Rt Rev Dr Pete Wilcox, Bishop of Sheffield:

“I came from a believing household. I can pinpoint the moment I was converted, at 12 or 13, but before that faith was just the wallpaper. Sometimes it works the other way. If your dad wears a dog collar it’s the easiest thing to rebel against. We don’t have the privilege and assumed influence of 50 years ago. That’s good for us, actually. It’s in our DNA to be on the margins. We can no longer take for granted our right to speak.”

Tom Holmes, head of branch, John Lewis Sheffield:

“I love the fact people still call it Cole Brothers. Why should people stop calling it that? My parents used to bring me here as a child on a Saturday morning to have my shoes fitted. The shop is an institution in Sheffield. There’s an affinity with it, we’re really proud of it.”

Judge Graham Robinson, Sheffield’s most senior civil judge:

“The public speak of judges living in ivory towers – we don’t. Very often if a judge asks a question in a criminal trial – the classic one being ‘Who are The Beatles?’ – it’s because the judge isn’t confident that all members of the jury have understood. We are utterly independent, utterly incorruptible and, putting modesty aside, pretty well-qualified. I think we’re held rightly in pretty high regard. We certainly deserve to be.”

Deborah Chadbourn, executive director, Music In The Round:

“Sheffield’s music-making is a real strength. We have more choirs than you can shake a stick at, fantastic youth orchestras and players. We’re very good at making things and identifying niche markets for precision tools, particular kinds of music and performance, but what we don’t do – some people see this as a weakness, but I see it as a strength – is say: ‘How can we grow that so we create a huge economic impact?’.”

Cutler Grace Horne:

“Being in Sheffield is as important to me now as it ever has been. I speak to people whose grandmother would have been a sharpener – there’s still that community memory of people working in the cutlery industry. There are still small engineering companies around that mean I can get things hardened and tempered if I want to, and also pretty much all of my inspiration is old Sheffield tools, catalogues, knives, scissors, needles, flatware – you name it. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. There is a tradition of women working in the knife-making industry in Sheffield, it’s just one of those things that’s hidden.”

Steve Brailey, former boss of Sheffield International Venues:

“I couldn’t believe how negative people were when I arrived in Sheffield. I can still remember it vividly – I went to Hillsborough Leisure Centre and on the front door there were 34 individual notices. Of the 34, 29 told you things you couldn’t do. Everybody was always whingeing. I think Sheffield is still, like the rest of South Yorkshire, very reluctant to shout about what we do well. It seems to be a natural trait. But slowly but surely the tide has turned.”

Ashley Carson, assay master:

“I think 10 years ago London had the monopoly on the special marks – people like Asprey’s, Garrard’s and Mappin and Webb would all request the London hallmark, to have the leopard’s head on items. But that has certainly changed. Now I can walk down Bond Street, have a look in shop windows, and proudly see Sheffield hallmarks in there. We’ve broken down that barrier.”

Ruby Tandoh, food writer and former Great British Bake Off finalist:

“I didn’t really know what to expect when I first moved here. But I love it – it’s more vibrant, there’s a lot more going on, but also it’s not as overwhelming as London. We could move anywhere and wanted a fresh start. So we visited a few places – we went to Manchester, Newcastle – but thought Sheffield seemed nice and gave it a go. It’s worked out really well. Living here feels a lot more healthy.”

Sheffield coroner Christopher Dorries:

“Our mortuary would have been able to deal with any of the recent disasters – the bombings and things like that, with the possible exception of Grenfell Tower, that’s a bit bigger. We could probably deal with about 70 bodies. I worry about a double-decker bus coming off the Tinsley viaduct straight into the Meadowhall car park, or landing on a tram. You would like me to think about that sort of thing, because if I’m thinking about it, hopefully we’re prepared to deal with it.”

Poet Helen Mort:

“Poetry is for everyone. You can read a poem in the way that you can go and have a pint. It can be an event, it can be fun, and anyone can do it. Listening to a poem, or taking five minutes out of your day to read something – it could change your mood. I think a lot of poems are like the story someone might tell you in a pub late at night – a weird anecdote or a strange moment that’s captured in time.”

Richard Eyre, head of Sheffield city centre management, markets and CCTV:

“Next year the Peace Gardens will be 20 and to me it looks as it did in 1998. So many councils make mistakes where they get all the EU and lottery money, spend it, and don’t think about how to sustain their spaces, animate them and keep them clean. A lot of those spaces, after five or six years, look terrible.”

Jenni Murray, Radio 4’s Barnsley-born Woman’s Hour presenter:

“I always wanted to try and get from Margaret Thatcher what it was like to have her gender at the front of everything. She just would not entertain it. I posed a question about the fact people always used to say she gave them a handbagging and that Alan Clark had waxed lyrical about her finely-turned ankles and how much he’d fancied her during Prime Minister’s Questions. Nobody had silenced Margaret Thatcher before, she always had something to say, but on that occasion she simply said nothing.”

John Hamshere, outgoing industrial museums boss:

“I knew that if an engine the River Don’s size was ever mothballed, it would never run again. It would be far too expensive to get it going. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else, ever, in terms of its power, what it says about Sheffield industry, the drive, the innovation – all the things that have made Sheffield great. It’s almost organic in its nature when you see those rods going up and down and the pistons moving. It breathes with the steam.”

Prof Alison Gartland, bone cancer expert at Sheffield University’s medical school:

“Once you get into bone research it sucks you in. When people think of bones they think of skeletons – something solid that you dig up – but it’s the most important organ in your body. Without your bones you wouldn’t be who you are. For me, it’s fascinating.”

Andrew Coombe, HM Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire:

“There’s so much volatility at the moment, Her Majesty is a constant. And people like stability. When the Royal entourage has left after a visit, people are fired up by it. People get dewy-eyed about the Maundy service, and even about Princess Diana when she came to the Children’s Hospital 20-odd years ago. They don’t have to come often, but if they do, it’s wonderful. I would be delighted if William and Kate, or Harry for that matter, were to come to South Yorkshire. The things they are very keen on are very pertinent here – mental health in young people, for instance, is a huge problem.”