HIS heroes are the 24 men who have voyaged to the moon.
Now Nigel McEnaney is on something of a quest of his own - to meet the 19 of those astronauts still alive.
The 23-year-old set himself the lunar challenge after becoming fascinated with universe exploration following a chance meeting with none other than Sheffield’s own Helen Sharman.
But, just like those NASA missions, it’s not coming cheap.
The Showroom cinema manager has bagged face time with six of the moon walkers so far - and it’s already cost him more than £2,000.
“People probably think it’s weird,” laughs Nigel of St Mary’s Road, city centre. “Maybe it is, but it’s just a hobby, it’s like collecting stamps or something I suppose, I just want to meet them because I think what they did is incredible.
“I have such massive admiration for them and obviously they’re not young men any more. I didn’t want to get to 50 and suddenly think, ‘I wish I’d have got to speak to them when they were still alive’. And especially since it doesn’t look like there’s going to be any more moon exploration in my life time.”
So...meeting them he is.
So far, he’s ticked Fred Haise, Charlie Duke, Thomas Stafford, Al Worden, Richard Gordon and Edgar Mitchell off his list, having travelled to conferences and presentations as far as Glasgow, London and Leeds to say ‘hello’.
Now, next month he’ll meet one of the biggies, Buzz Aldrin, in London (“the ticket for face time is £200,” says Nigel, “I know it might seem a lot but it’s Buzz Aldrin”) before flying to Florida for the annual space convention.
There he hopes to get five minutes with several more of that 24 including Alan Bean, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan. Rumour has it Neil Armstrong will put in an appearance, although he famously refuses to do signing sessions with autograph hunters.
“What will I ask them?” he ponders. “I never really know until I’m there. I try not to make it something they’ll get asked day after day. I’m reading Buzz Aldrin’s book at the moment so I’ll probably mention that to him. I am quite excited, though.”
It is an excitement which has been building, it seems, for two years.
Nigel, who originally comes from Berwick-upon-Tweed but moved here to study photography at Sheffield Hallam University five years ago, was at a London autographs conference at the time.
“Back then I had no real interest in space,” he explains. “But I met Fred Haise who orbited the moon on Apollo 13 and I was just fascinated by this guy who’d done something that so few others had. I met Helen Sharman too who didn’t go to the moon but was really interesting as well.
“I went home and just started researching it all and reading up about it, and that’s what really led to this mission I’ve set myself.
“I don’t think it will be easy. There’s 19 who are still alive but a couple like John W Young refuse to do conventions. But I’ll give it my best shot. I have a moon poster and I ask them all to sign that.”
Nigel is to share his enthusiasm for space with a new night at the Showroom. Sheffield University space experts Professor Paul Crowther and Simon Goodwin will talk at the new quarterly night on September 12. Entry is free.
The 12 who made it and the 12 who went round
THE 12 men who have landed on the moon are Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John W. Young, Charles Duke, Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.
THE 12 men who orbited but did not land are Frank Borman, James Lovell, William Anders, Thomas Stafford, Michael Collins, Richard Gordon, Jack Swigert, Fred Haise, Stuart Roosa, Alfred Worden, Ken Mattingly and Ronald Evans.
AL Worden, who flew to the moon on Apollo 15, holds the record as the ‘loneliest man in history’ being 2,300 miles from the nearest person at his furthest point.
ALAN Bean had an unusual change of career after the moon landing - he became a painter.
IN 2005 Neil Armstrong threatened legal action against his barber. The crimper had found a profitable sideline in brushing up the astronauts hair and selling it online.