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I arrived in Sheffield for the first tine on a cold, windy day late in the autumn, tired after a long train journey. Within minutes, I knew this was a city worth giving my allegiance: a reliable first impression.

This was, let me see, getting on for thirty years ago, and unforgettable. So lively, from the student pubs of Broomhill to the no-menu Indian caff on Spital Hill; a constant and exhilarating sense of movement from the hills, the rivers and the brisk Pennine wind; Yorkshire Penny Bank and Wards' Sheffield Bitter.

Many of the friends I made then are still there, and my present happiness is rooted in the years I spent getting to know memorable people in this memorable place. My thanks, then, both to the people – too many to thank individually as carefully as they deserve – and to the place.