Matt Heason, Founder of Sheffield Adventure Film Festival

Sheffield makes me proud to live here. 

I grew up in rural north Wales and moved to Sheffield in 1996 with no job, purely because it was central and had great climbing. It didn’t take long to integrate into the community which welcomes people with open arms. And it wasn’t much longer before I accidentally started to organise some independent film nights and lectures for climbers. Those early nights were incredibly well supported and led to all manner of new events, meetings, opportunities and fulfilling experiences. 

Obviously the climbing was the number one draw. The fact that you can get from work in the city centre to a world-class climbing destination in half an hour speaks volumes. The community that has evolved, based around that geographical phenomenon, is like no other. When friends or family visit they are always surprised at the sheer number of people you pass and say hello to, whether that’s out for food on London Road, waiting at the train station, or running across the moors. It feels like a very small world.

I guess all of this led me to the setting up and running the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival. I also organise regular Cycle To The Cinema nights, a host of other independent film nights and lectures in the city, and I was also partly responsible for Cliffhanger and bringing the British Bouldering Championships to the city.

Whilst I enjoy visiting London and other big cities, I find their endless urban horizons energy-sapping. Sheffield is the perfect blend of the two - wild countryside and urban culture pretty much intermingling with each other, and a population of like-minded souls who are here for the same reasons.