HE’S been cheering people up for decades...
But now it was the turn of one of Hillsborough’s best known residents to be the centre of attention himself.
Just about everybody in the S6 area knows Walter Holland as the uncle they never had.
Walter, now 86, contracted meningitis as a child and spent many years in Middlewood Hospital.
But he never let his disabilities stand in his way when it came to spreading cheer.
He became famous for his happy-go-lucky nature and always had a surprise gift for everyone, from sweets and chocolate biscuits to conkers and paper aeroplanes.
Today the lifelong Hillsborough resident even has his own fan page on Facebook which includes hundreds of members.
Now the man who can probably count his friends in the thousands was honoured with a party attended by his closest pals, family and neighbours at Loxley Court in Sheffield.
The supported housing complex has been Walter’s home since 2004 and scheme manager Janet Shipman felt it was time to celebrate the happiness that Walter has brought to so many local people down the years.
She said: “Walter is something of a legend in this part of Sheffield and living proof that ordinary people can make a huge difference in their community just by being kind and open-hearted towards strangers.
“Most people around here have nothing but the fondest of memories of Walter from their childhoods.
“He was the kindly gentleman who they all loved to chat to, always ready with a song or a joke and with treats in every pocket.
“It’s hard to imagine someone like Walter being accepted in the same way nowadays but he’s a complete one-off, a true legend, and just a very kind and gentle man who loves people.”
Walter was presented with a box of chocolates and a lucky bag, his favourite treat, by Brian Hamlin, Community Investment Manager for his housing complex management Guinness Northern Counties.
Brian has his own memories of Walter as a youngster.
He said: “I grew up in this part of Sheffield and clearly remember Walter giving me paper aeroplanes. He was building communities long before we started and he’s a credit to the people of this area.”