Today’s columnist, Fraser Wilson: Climb every mountain

New Woodland Discovery Centre in Ecclesall Woods
New Woodland Discovery Centre in Ecclesall Woods

A headline in Monday’s Star caught my eye. “Networking event with a difference in Sheffield woods.” With curiosity aroused and wondering quite what, and whom, this might involve, I read on.

It turns out that someone had the bright idea of getting business leaders together, not in a boardroom or conference centre but up in Ecclesall Woods.

My initial hopes that the plan for the day involved paintballing or a mass game of Manhunt were disappointed.

Instead, delegates assembled (last night, by the time you read this) at the wonderful JG Graves Woodland Discovery Centre for a cross-sector event based on the Sheffield Outdoor Initiative. How inspiring and refreshing to be surrounded by whispering trees and birdsong.

The idea behind this seems to be that we’ve got a lot of outdoors here in Sheffield, so why not use it to do stuff? Quite right too – the city seems to have no end of lovely spaces that can be used for all sorts of interesting purposes. We should celebrate them and make use of them.

I love how we turn ordinary places into special ones through ideas and events. See how Fargate is transformed by all those wonderful food markets they have. Enjoy the buzz around Doc/Fest or the snooker. No wonder Sheffield’s called “the city of festivals”.

And why not go outdoors for things we normally do in?

When the weather clears up a bit (it’s June!) I’m going to officially move my home office into the garden.

And between early July and late September I’m firmly of the opinion that all meetings, conferences, interviews, and audits should be conducted al fresco.

My own exploration of the outdoors centres on running and music.

I’m lucky enough to be involved with a choral group that is able to sing pretty much anywhere you care to put it.

One of our first ever performances was on horseback (yes, a whole choir of us) at a food festival.

Last year we discovered the joys of subterranean singing at Peak Cavern; it was so good, we’re going again in September.

Later in the autumn we will take over Barkers Pool. Let’s make music wherever we can: it is all around us.

And I have a mad plan to take a barrel of beer up a mountain and pull a pint for exhilarated climbers as they reach the summit.

But that’s for another day – hopefully a warmer one.

* Fraser Wilson, Musical Director of Albion Choir