Park life in Sheffield inspired actress Victoria to write
She’s an actress who has worked with Dustin Hoffman, an author, a businesswoman and is currently renovating a 400-year-old house in Penistone.
Victoria Baddon is quite a story, as is her self-published book On You Go, based in a Sheffield park.
The book circles around Rosie and her family who live through past secrets, love, murder and romance all centred in the magical woods of the old Glen Howe Park.
Glen Howe Park is real. It is in Wharncliffe Side and covers an area of 19 acres in the valley of the Tinker Brook, a minor tributary of the River Don. It is home to a variety of fungi, rare plants and animals only found in ancient woodlands.
It sounds magical and has special memories for Victoria.
“We used to go to the park because my uncle was the caretaker. It was a beautiful place, heaven. All the bluebells, amazing.”
Uncle Cecil and Aunty Vera oversaw a park where wooden huts provided places for people to meet, eat and chat. This was the 1970s and there was a pack horse bridge which bore Cecil’s name.
An idyllic scene, but Victoria says these memories aren’t matched by the park’s current state. She hopes her book could be made into a film which would transform the place once more.
“It would be the perfect setting for a film. I’ve brought it back to life in my book,” she says.
The book follows how lives are changed as the truth comes out. Central character Rosie is described as a free spirit and artist, who cares for Veronica and Georgina and sees them grow up to be very diﬀerent, lovely women.
She knew their secrets, loves and fears so when Rosie dies quite early in life, Veronica thinks her secret has gone with her and never to be told.
But Rosie had other ways of uncovering the past and the truth changes many paths and lives of the people she loved.
And it all unravels in the park. “The characters bring the park back to life,” says Victoria. “Their lives bring the park back to what it was and I would love for that to happen. It would be so easy to do.”
It took her three months to write the novel, she did it all in longhand, writing with a pen and paper.
“Every day I went for a walk in the field and when I came back the writing just flowed through me, straight to my pen,” she says.
“I didn’t always know what would be coming, it was almost like it was being channelled through me. I enjoyed it, I just wanted to do it and I don’t care whether it sells or not.”
“My niece typed it up and made it fit for publication. I’m lucky I’ve got such a wonderful family.”
Victoria was in Scarbrough at the time but has sold that house and can’t wait to move to Penistone. It will bring her home.
Born in Oughtibridge in the Old School House, Onesacre, from there the family moved to Wharncliffe Side. Victoria went to Bradfield School in Worrall and Brantwood girls school, Psalter Lane.
She left school at 16 and wanted to be an actress, following in her mother’s footsteps. “I did film work, I used to sing and I got an Equity card. I’ve done film work all my life.”
Victoria has had walk-on roles in Tv’s Emmerdale for 40 years as a support artist. She’s done the same role in Last of the Summer Wine, and was in the film Across The Lake starring Anthony Hopkins as Donald Campbell.
She has also filmed with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson in the romantic drama Last Chance Harvey. “I was Emma Thompson’s double and did a scene with Dustin Hoffman, he thought I was Emma Thompson,” she says.
An impressive list of names to drop but she’s done plenty of other things too. Victoria had a business in Oughtibridge called Poppy’s Tea Room, she also ran Victoria’s Flower Shop and Victoria’s Vintage Car Hire. Quite the businesswoman. “I’ve worked all my life and now I’m back in South Yorkshire.”
She’s also been married, moved to North Yorkshire - where she worked at Ripley Castle, near Harrogate - and then started work on her book.
It was lockdown which got her writing. “I just felt like I wanted to write. I had some quiet time.”
She’s just bought a 400-year-old property in Penistone which needs renovating and while that is being done she is with her sister Jane in Oxspring.
Victoria won’t tell me her age, a legacy from her mum Joyce. Apparently, an actress never discusses age.
“I’m not a teenager,” she says, laughing. “Anyone who knows me will have an idea but I don’t want it mentioning, my mum never did either.”
Her mum went with the stage surname Laye and appeared on stage and Tv, giving Victoria a taste for it. Her support artist roles in Emmerdale have included speaking lines and she is still asked about now when out and about. “I get stopped and asked if I’m still doing it,” she says.
But to get to that point she had to earn an Equity card, a demanding task. “I went to Cornwall because there was lots of work at the holiday camps. You needed 36 contracts to get an Equity card and I got them.”
Her dad Bob was a landscape gardener and she is one of six children - five sisters and one brother. Victoria is the youngest, but there’s still no clue as to her age.
Her mum’s profession gave her some celebrity which meant a local journalist was forever at their house fishing for stories.
“He was called Bryan Longworth and was always asking, it got me thinking I should get in touch about my book.”
One of Bryan’s stories for the South Yorkshire Times involved Victoria’s sister Heather helping her daughter give birth in shark infested waters in Costa Rica.
“Amy wanted to give birth in the water and Heather was going to help. There were sharks swimming around, it was quite a story. Bryan told it really nicely.”
Victoria’s book is self-published with Grosvenor House Publishing and is for sale now. The title On You Go comes from the man who became her husband.
She first met Sam Hunter 20 years ago and they were due to be married but fell out. He looked her up 10 years later. “We picked up where we left off, we got married and then found out he had cancer. I had him with me until he died.
“He never said ‘Go on then’, like we do in Yorkshire, he always said On You Go.”
Sam died in 2007 but the phrase stuck in her head and as she weaved the lives of her characters it became an obvious title. Her advice to other writers is simple. “Create space every day to write, pick up a pen and just write.
“I wrote with pen and paper, it felt like the basics of a feather and quill, where I was channeling the creative energy.
“Write something and go with it. If you can’t think of anything just put a few sentences together, take a break, something will pop in your brain, write it down and once you’ve done that something else adds on to it and suddenly you’ve got a few pages.”
To read her 180 pages, go online https://www.libroworld.com/9781839756979/