THEY say it’s the thought that counts...
Don Sparkes’ thoughts certainly do – all 13,400 of them!
Former Pitsmoor vicar Rev Don Sparkes (retired) has been supplying the Star and the Sheffield Morning Telegraph with small doses of spiritual sustenance with his brief and poignant Thought For The Day pieces since 1970.
That’s a lot of thoughts over 43 years, even for a man who’s spent most of his time perusing higher matters and the welfare of other people.
And he’s never missed a day in all that time.
“It’s amazing how time slips by,” said 80-year old Rev Sparkes at his home at Ladybower.
“I had a friend who worked on The Star all those years ago who asked me If I would like to do a daily thought but that was for the Sheffield Telegraph back in 1970 when it was a daily paper.
“When the Telegraph went weekly he suggested that the piece should go in the Star.
“I’ve been doing it since with the only break coming when there was a strike back in the 1970s.
After the strike the editor wrote to me and asked me to pick it up again, saying that people had missed it during the strike when they produced a reduced paper.
An evacuee from the east end of London to Oxford in 1940 he lived in the university city from the age of seven until he went away to study at university when he was 18.
Don Sparkes came to Sheffield in 1963 and stayed for 33 years in Pitsmoor as vicar of Holy Trinity Church and later of Christ Church.
He also served as a Liberal city councillor who became an Independent and finally a Conservative during his political career and served on the council’s education committee.
“There was a time when I was a councillor that the phone would ring and I wouldn’t know if it was going to be someone needing spiritual advice or someone who had a problem with their heating!”
Rev Sparkes still goes into schools to teach and lead services with his wife Iris, former headteacher of the Clifford School, in Psalter Lane, Sheffield.
And his words, sometimes gentle and biblical, other times forthright and practical, are read, absorbed and appreciated.
“We have heard from people who have been very much helped by some of the thoughts I have written for the paper,” he added.
“People who have been really down and they have been picked up by what they have read.”
Now, after 43 years Don is moving into the digital age.
“All those years ago I was told to do each thought – six of them each week, one for each night that The Star comes out – on six separate pieces of paper. I have been doing that ever since.
“Now, after a bit of a mix-up with my letters not getting through for a while, I am switching to email!
“I have a drawer full of stuff that might make something for the future. I always do them three or four weeks in advance.
“I just turn them out and when it’s printed I forget about them really. I will keep on doing them for as long as I am able and The Star wants to keep printing them.
“I hope to leave you with a big pile of them when I finally go!”
Thought For The Day is on The Letters page every night and on P23 today.