Beighton's '˜overwhelming community spirit'
It's a community that's wrestling with its own identity and has changed drastically like many parts of Sheffield.
Beighton, like large swathes of South Yorkshire, is proud of its mining heritage. The pits may have gone, but the mining spirit is not dead through the village community.
A shocking arson attack on a popular Beighton nursery really embodied that togetherness.
Residents rallied round to buy toys and businesses got involved with fundraising efforts.
Meanwhile, a Tesco moving into a once booming and busy Beighton pub has divided opinion. The former High Street site will become more popular for serving up pints of milk than pints of beer.
It’s another talking point in the community which has understandably worried small businesses owners.
Local lad Steve Edmonds, aged 59, is Beighton personified. The manager of the Beighton Villages Development Trust knows what it’s like to live and work here.
His work revolves around the Lifestyle Community Centre, a central place where more than 1,000 people come through its doors each week, for everything from Weightwatchers to Baby Ballet.
The centre was reborn from the dilapidated former church hall and now acts as a community hub for local projects.
Steve says that Beighton has seen a huge amount of change.
“When I was a young lad in Beighton, we had the miners’ welfare and the three working men’s clubs would dominate the village. It had a thriving nightlife with lots of pubs with a strong community spirit.
“I suppose I’ve seen a lot of change within the village, the pubs have closed down, the clubs aren’t the driving force as they once were.
“But there is still a mining influence. It’s dropping but it’s not dead. There’s still an old mining culture in the village.”
Beighton community gala is a major event each year that brings people together and embodies that spirit, Steve adds.
“I’ve worked on that gala for 25 years and at the start it was literally five tables and a bouncy castle and now 12,000 people turn up with over 100 stalls.
“It shows how the people of Beighton really get behind things that go on in their area and it’s really great to see.
“But people in Beighton are very protective of the village and very vocal and if something happens that going to change or alter things detrimentally then people do dig their heels in and make their voice known.”
Bizzie Bees staff members manager Lisa Burgin, head fundraiser Amanda Webster and assistant manager Linda Stoney are chatting away over a coffee in the Lifestyle Community Centre.
It wouldn’t seem at first glance that the nursery they all worked in had been gutted by a fire.
The trio admit they spend more time with each other than their respective husbands. But working together at the nursery has been put on hold.
The blaze shocked a community – staff lost their jobs and around 190 children had to be settled into different nurseries which placed an emotional and stressful toll on parents.
On the night of the fire, the sensory alarms went off which alert both Lisa and Linda. It’s is usually something that doesn’t cause too much concern – but this time it was very different.
Manager Lisa said: “The first time that I knew something was wrong was when I got a text from a member of staff saying there were firefighters on the site. That’s when I knew something was not right. It wasn’t just a picture that had fallen down
“You just don’t believe it, we walked round the day after and the staff just burst into tears.”
The girls love their job, and are very passionate about the work they do.
“It was really emotional,” Amanda said.
“You really couldn’t believe it walking around just how bad it was.”
With no nursery, hard-working staff lost their jobs.
“It was one of the lowest points,” Lisa said.
“We knew it would have to happen we couldn’t save the nursery we couldn’t keep the staff on. It was terrible.”
The initial shock and sadness was overtaken by an outpouring of generosity that took the staff by complete surprise.
“We were so shocked at the response to help us. We couldn’t believe it, it was so overwhelming. The generosity of people in the community was amazing.
“People were going out and buying brand new toys for the children donating them to us still in the boxes.
“We also got pens, pencils, tables anything like that. To be fair, we’ve had so much that’s been donated we could open the nursery tomorrow.
“It’s just shows how much the people in Beighton care and it’s way more than we ever thought.”
Fundraising manager Amanda said: “It’s more upsetting for us knowing that we feel like we’re a massive part of the community and people really care.
“We’ve done bag packing, had race nights, discos, you name it we’ve done it to raise money and people have really got involved.
“We just want to say thank you. We can’t say it enough.”
The nursery rebuild is set to start in the summer and they hope to open up again in September.
Maureen Bennett aged 58, has worked for the High Street petrol station for nine years.
Although she now lives in Hackenthorpe, Maureen is Beighton born and feels like the village is losing some of its identity.
But she thinks the people are still the main plus point for the area.
“The people are brilliant around here,” she said.
“Everyone knows everyone knows everyone and they’re really easy going.
“I do think the village is being taken away from the people a bit. There is no real pub scene anymore and the Tesco decision is diabolical. People around here on the whole don’t want it.
“I don’t see why we need it when we’ve got Crystal Peaks on our doorstep.”
It’s the Tesco issue that worries 43-year-old Lynsay Heslop. She’s worked in Beighton for 15 years and has ran the village Post Office for just over two years.
The business a family affair with husband Roy and mum Pam helping out behind the counter.
“If I’d have known that Tesco was coming so close to us when I took over the place then I probably wouldn’t have,” Lynsay said.
“The shop side of things doesn’t make a great deal of money and we rely on the postal service side more.
“The general feeling I get from people who come in is they don’t want a Tesco on the whole. We’ve got loads of big supermarkets nearby.”
Despite living over in Eckington, Lynsay loves working in Beighton.
“The people really are special here. I can walk down the road and speak to loads of different people whereas I wouldn’t get that as much in Eckington.
“Everyone seems to look out for each other.”