I love living in Sheffield and the fact that if feels both big and small at the same time. It has the friendliness of a village with the clout of a big city.
My first Yorkshire holiday with my family was when I was 4 years old and I vaguely recollect visiting Sheffield’s Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet. In the mid-1990s I returned to Sheffield as a student and from the first minute I arrived I absolutely loved it, making some wonderful lifelong friends too. My wife – who is actually from the city – and I have lived in Liverpool, Manchester and London but we both always wanted to get back to Sheffield.
There is so much to do in Yorkshire. History, culture, sport and the great outdoors are everywhere you look. Friends regularly travel up from London to stay with us and we have come nowhere near to exhausting the places we can go. It’s great visiting new venues, attractions and locations, there really is so much to discover. Plus there are so many fantastic golf courses In Yorkshire that could keep you going for years.
We enjoy taking the kids all over the county and stayed on a campsite near Scarborough last year and had a great time at Flamborough. Of course, living in Sheffield, the Peak District National Park is on our doorstep and as a family we regularly spend many hours walking and taking the kids on fantastic trails, marvelling at the magnificent landscape and breathtaking views, plus there are lots of outdoor pursuits to get involved with in a spectacular setting. I think the coronavirus crisis has affected us all and I’m very thankful that I’ve still been able to work throughout the pandemic. I presented Football Focus from our spare bedroom for 10 weeks during lockdown. The situation had a much bigger impact on our kids though. They are so happy to be back at school now. The virus also proved to me that my A in GCSE maths must have been a fluke because I was a mess when it came to algebra during homeschooling. (laughs)
Aside from listening to fake crowd noise, the hardest part has been seeing friends and family struggling with the situation and to not be able to see or hug people. I think we have all really missed church as a family too. It has reminded me of how important that is. It was also tough to cancel my charity golf day. We have raised thousands of pounds for the Sheffield Children’s Hospital over the last few years and we had to cancel that event which was scheduled to take place in September at Hallamshire Golf Club, but hopefully it’ll return in 2021. There have been positive times during the last few months though and in lockdown, including spending time with family, which has been amazing. I have also been able to write a book – which I don’t think I would have been able to do otherwise.
My new book, Remarkable People, is out now. I was asked to write an autobiography but I was far more interested in writing about other people. I felt it was important to shine a light on some of those who have had a big impact on me over the years. All of them have been through a lot but still manage to make a huge positive impression on the people around them. I hope people enjoy reading it. There is a chapter all about Tony Foulds and the flypast. It takes you through our first meeting in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield and how it all came about in the space of just a few short weeks. I still get asked about the flypast all the time, wherever I go, and I think it’s still lovely that so many people came to watch it live in Sheffield and millions saw it on TV.