Sheffield's new Master Cutler Charles Turner: Yorkshire's honesty, integrity and quality rubs off on its inhabitants

Charles Turner is the new Master Cutler of Sheffield. His father Neil was Master Cutler of the Company of Cutlers in 2003. Charles is managing director of Durham-Duplex. He is married to Sarah, and they have two grown-up children.

What’s your first Yorkshire memory?

It’s rather vague one, and not very romantic at all. It would be of visiting a factory with my father when I’d have been about three or four years old, and of being very impressed by the dust in the air, the piles of raw material, the sense of purpose everywhere.

What’s your favourite part of the county – and why?

Sheffield CathedralSheffield Cathedral
Sheffield Cathedral

That area of South Yorkshire that borders Derbyshire, over toward Stannington and Bradfield. Wide open countryside, beautiful terrain, and something different around every corner. There is the added bonus, of course, of it’s also being home to that wonderful ice cream parlour, Our Cow Molly, in Dungworth.

Do you have a favourite walk – or view?

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The one where you can look across to the gritstone escarpment of Stanage Edge, and just marvel at it – there’s a cement works in the way, of course, but even that, on the right day and with the right light, has its own strange beauty. You might be thinking ‘Derbyshire, surely?’, but in fact, it’s in the ancient and historic district of Hallamshire, so it is very much Yorkshire territory, to me.

Which Yorkshire sportsperson, past or present, would you like to take for lunch?

Charles Turner, Sheffield's Master CutlerCharles Turner, Sheffield's Master Cutler
Charles Turner, Sheffield's Master Cutler

Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, a role mode if ever there was one. Fighting back after injuries to be on peak form again, she is just inspirational – there’s no other word for it.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, or past or present, would you like to take for dinner?

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Sir Michael Palin. I love the way that he has, in a way, re-invented himself, from being a very silly (and also very funny) member of the Python team, to turning into a fine actor in films like A Private Function and Fish called Wanda, and then as an explorer and a more than perceptive commentator on people, places and nature in general in his documentary series. And a prolific author, as well.

If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what would it be?

Cutler’s Hall, in Sheffield – but then, I am biased. It’s as busy and as relevant today as it was when it first opened in 1638. It’s been on the same site since then, although there have been a few re-buildings and expansions. It’s one of the finest Livery Halls in the country, and yet so many are unaware of it. And you haven’t got enough space to let me tell you about its priceless collections and archives.

If you could own, or have access to, one thing in Yorkshire for a day, what would it be?

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The Yorkshire Sculpture Park – but I wouldn’t be a selfish 24-hour monarch, and want the place to myself, I’d want to celebrate with a great picnic and gathering, and let Georgie have a good sniff around as well. I think our al fresco meal would be on that lawn by the Henry Moore sculptures.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

The people and their sense of determination. The fact that Yorkshire folk just get on with it – if we were an independent country, we’d be a leading manufacturer and exporter. In South Yorkshire we have the first of the new Innovation Zones in the UK, and that speaks volumes. The sad fact is that we don’t make the most of letting others know how good we are! Modesty is one of our greatest weaknesses.

Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what?

I used to play rugby when I was in the Army, but that stopped when I was 32, because it suddenly dawned on me that the lads who were ten years younger could run a darned sight faster that I could. It’s a source of great disappointment to me that we still don’t have a rugby team in a premiere league – and it’s extremely worrying that, when there are any cutbacks, sporting facilities and playing fields are among the first things to go.

Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?

The Rising Sun, in Fulwood in Sheffield. Excellent beer, good food, great staff and full of people we know.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

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Just lead me to a place which sells Waterall’s pork pies (preferably the ones which are sold warm at the Moor Market), and I am a very contented person. And I’m also very partial to the new Henderson’s Relish new rice-cake style crisps. We are always giving the gift of a miniature Hendo’s bottle to our guests at the many Cutlers Hall functions.

How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it?

It’s getting its “swagger” back, I believe, its confidence, after all the troubles and problems in the 1980s – the Innovation District is proof of that. The words “Made in Sheffield” go a long way in establishing the credibility and quality of a product. Certainly, Sheffield city centre has transformed itself beyond recognition, with the Peace Gardens, the pair of University areas, and the thriving cultural scene.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work?

Just a bit! Yorkshire has three wonderful qualities which rub off on to its inhabitants – honesty, integrity and quality. We do things with openness in these parts. And, personally, my staff inspire me to do better – and more.

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Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer.

I am a “child of the eighties”, so it has to be the music of Human League, and their spin-off band Heaven 17.

If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be?

The very beautiful Sheffield Cathedral, right in the heart of the city itself. Stunning architecture, always the warmest of welcomes warm, comforting, invigorating, a busy and engaging place where someone will always speak to you, or where you can find a private space for contemplation. The bonus is that it is right opposite Cutler’s Hall.

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