WE ARE SHEFFIELD: Susan puts letter-writing on top of the news agenda

Susan Richardson is on a one-woman mission to keep the lost art of letter writing alive.

Tuesday, 20th February 2018, 8:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th February 2018, 8:50 pm
Susan Richardson.

Over the last five decades, the 75-year-old has fired off hundreds of missives on just about every subject under the sun.

Her name has appeared in the pages on The Star on countless occasions, as well as in national newspapers such as the Daily Mail and on the desks of prominent figures such as Prince Charles and Theresa May.

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“You would have a job to find an issue that I haven’t written a letter on,” she says.

“I haven’t had a great deal of success but I have brought attention to things.”

Despite her modesty, Susan’s letters have become legendary among Star readers and she was the subject of two editorial pieces in the early 1990s.

She has lived in the same place in Lodge Moor for 50 years, moving into the flat with her newborn daughter Lisa in 1968 and embarking on life as a single parent.

Recently, Susan’s letters have focused increasingly on the contentious issue of Sheffield’s street trees.

Having been born and brought up on Rustlings Road, she describes the issue as ‘personal’.

“No one has been saying that damaged, diseased or dangerous trees should not come down,” she says.

“But the Vernon oak in Totley is 150 years’ old, it is a healthy tree but they want it down because of one kerbstone out of place.

“We feel like our concerns are being ignored.”

Susan began writing in 1970, mainly poetry followed by letters to newspapers.

“There have been many times I have felt like packing it in,” she says. “But then someone says they have seen one of my letters and it boosts me a little bit.

“If you can make people think about an issue then it makes it all worthwhile.”

The Vernon Oak.

Rather than venting her spleen, Susan says she has always favoured a more considered approach.

“I just want to put the issue from both sides and get people to make an informed decision,” she explains.

“I believe in doing my research and getting my facts straight – I don’t think I have ever put anything untruthful in any of my letters.”

“While you don’t always win the battle, you sometimes prevent things happening again.”

As well as letters to newspapers, Susan has also been writing a book about her childhood growing up in Sheffield.

‘The Chains of Circumstance’ was started in 1980 – but keeps getting put on the back burner as another issue grabs Susan’s attention.

Despite devoting so much time to trees over the last few years, Susan has remained interested in a wide range of other issues, including the fate of the city’s historic buildings.

Chief among these, she says, is Sheffield’s grade II-listed but disused Old Town Hall on Waingate.

It is safe to assume that more letters are on the way.

The Vernon Oak.