Andy Kershaw, a dad to three sons who lives near Meersbrook Park, says giving up full-time work this year was always going to be a challenge and then he began to concentrate on more of his favourite things - he’s now happier than ever.
Andy said: “I always knew that taking voluntary redundancy from the BBC after almost 20 years as a local journalist would be a sudden change of gear but I’ve managed to find the right balance.
“My wife, Carol, and I decided to get a puppy after I left the BBC and she retired from Rotherham Council as a social care manager.
“We’ve never even owned a dog before, so It was a huge leap but it’s totally changed our lives for the better.
“We went to see a small litter of six Cockapoo puppies and the smallest one looked like he was lost and was clearly the runt, but we fell in love with him and now we wouldn’t be without him, he’s a really lovable placid character.
“It’s been the spur for me to get out into the countryside and I often walk 10km-15km on our trips because I made it my personal challenge during lockdown to visit all 15 of the nature reserves in South Yorkshire run by the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust. So far I’ve done 10.”
Andy’s other passion is cycling, and he and some former BBC chums are often seen at the various coffee stops and watering holes in the Peak District and beyond.
“We often cycle 40-50 miles at weekends exploring places on two wheels, it’s so wonderful and terrific for my mental health”
"We are so lucky to have such wonderful places like the Monsal Trail, Rother Valley Country Park and lovely chocolate box villages like Tideswell, Castleton and Eyam which are frequent destinations.”
Andy also has used his legal experience of the charity sector and fundraising to support three Sheffield voluntary groups to become registered charities and has helped them to raise thousands of pounds. He is a trustee of De Hood Boxing Centre at Manor Top and also acts as a charity adviser to Kickback Recovery Community, which supports people recovering from addiction in Sheffield.
“I was fascinated and impressed by the allure and positive benefits of it when I first visited the De Hood boxing centre in the old Prince Edward Primary School at Manor top in Sheffield,” said Andy.
“I got inspired by the commitment, energy and charisma of its founder, Reagan Denton who works with around 400 kids every week getting them off the streets and into sport exercise and fitness as a diversion from other more negative activities, and I was invited to join the board of trustees to support them to develop as a charity and help with fundraising, which I really enjoy.”
“Small charities such as De Hood and other youth projects in South Yorkshire which engage young people like this, getting them off the streets, safe from the grasp of organised crime gangs who actively groom young people into the street-based drugs trade, are doing critically important work and need all the support they can get, and I want to get behind that effort.”
Andy has not completely left the world of journalism behind, as he’s now authoring freelance articles and still does some compering and chairing of events. He has also produced a new film detailing the battle to save the historic Portland Works from being turned into a block of flats, which premiered last night.
“Imagine the place where the first blades made from stainless steel in the world by Harry Brearley in 1913, being lost to a characterless monstrosity and it’s unthinkable that this was ever a plan, but it was, says Andy.
"And some very brave and talented people put their own money up and campaigned to buy it to save it from that peril. The film tells the story of that success and I’m quite proud of it,” he added.
“I’ve also joined the team of freelance trainers at the South Yorkshire Community Foundation, which does fantastic work supporting small groups and charities around the region with grants and training.
“I’ think I’ve developed some expertise in using the media over the years, understanding supporter engagement and boosting individual donations for voluntary and community groups and I’ve been delivering that training via Zoom from home, which has been really exciting.”
Andy also has three grown up sons.
“We have one in South Wales, one in London and one right here in Sheffield, he explains, and I have an 11-year-old grand-daughter and two step-grandchildren in Wales, so family keeps me busy with travelling and keeping in touch.”
Andy lives close to Meersbrook Park in Sheffield and is often seen walking his dog Jett around it.
“I also love to take him to the places where I played as a young kid such as Graves Park, Millhouses Park, my top three favourite green spaces in Sheffield, which have all won Green Flags recently.”