logo Burngreave Messenger Issue 32 - June 2003

The Interview

Charlotte Hall spent most of her childhood in New Zealand, she and her family came back to Britain when she was nine. Charlotte moved to Sheffield seven years ago to study photography. After training and working as a florist she began to volunteer at Pitsmoor Adventure playground. She is now a play worker at Byron Wood’s after-school club. Of living in the area she says, ‘I had never lived anywhere like it before, I felt uneasy walking about, but that’s changed – I see familiar faces on the streets, people recognise me. I wouldn’t live anywhere else in Sheffield, I love it’.

What is your idea of happiness?
I’ve got thousands; doing the gardening and watching the bulbs come up, Sunday morning lie-ins. When I went to Australia I saw some Dolphins, we were at a place called Monky Mia. I stood in the water and a pod of dolphins with a little baby swam up, it was unreal, the experience was out of this world.

What is your greatest fear?
Being buried alive. Not to have any kids is kind of scarey, I see my future living by the ocean with a gaggle of children.

What do you dislike about yourself?
Apart from my nose? I rush into things without thinking about the consequences.

What do you dislike about others?
Distrust, people who tell lies, false people.

What makes you sad?
I get sad if I see a child that’s had a really hard time. They should be out having fun but they can’t play, they don’t have the opportunity to be children.

What is your earliest memory?
New Zealand, it would have to be the mud pools at Rotorua, I’d be about three. They are really bizarre – I remember my mum pushing me over little bridges in my buggy and the volcanic mud just bubbling up. I remember the smell of it. Childhood memories are just about space, it was never cold. I remember flying into Manchester and it was just… grey.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Well there is my bloke – when I was younger there was a horse called Oscar. It wasn’t mine but I loved that horse.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
‘Wicked’, – the kids at after-school club copy me they say they’re, ‘doing a Charlotte’.

What is your greatest regret?
I try not to have regrets. If it’s life stuff I try and learn from it. If I don’t finish something I think, ‘well, that was meant to be’.

How do you relax?
In my garden. I sit up on the bench with a drink and just watch the fish in the pond.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
If he didn’t smoke then the house wouldn’t stink and I wouldn’t get cancer.

If you could change one thing about Burngreave, what would it be?
Play opportunities for the kids, to get them off the streets, more safe environments for children to play. When I was a child I’d just be out all the time having a good time. If children can’t play safely it takes away their childhood.

How would you like to die?
It’s quite romantic, people say quietly or in their bed. I’d like to be in one of the beautiful places I’ve been – with someone I love, happy and feeling I’d done everything. It would back in New Zealand – I’d like to swim off with a dolphin.

How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who cared about stuff. I really care about things. ‘She cared, she was sparkly, she was all right she was’. I don’t think I’ll ever be remembered for doing anything great. I’d like to be remembered by all the kids I work with.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Value your mental health. I’ve had a lot of people around me who have just gone. Look after yourself because you’re the most important thing, you can’t do stuff unless you’re sorted.

Which living person do you most admire?
I always want to go out and change things, but when something holds me back I get daunted by it. I don’t admire a single person, but anyone who works for Médicins Sans Frontières, or go and become human shields, anyone who believes in something so strongly that they put their life on the line. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself; I hope I make a difference with the kids I work with.

What is your favourite journey?
My mum lives in the Highlands. The train journey up there, it takes forever. You see the whole country changing. Then I arrive and it’s just peace and tranquility – and I can eat my mum’s puddings.

What is your favourite smell?
After it rains in the garden, that fresh grassy smell like everything has been washed clean.

Interview between Charlotte Hall and Steve Pool
16th May 2003.
Photography by Richard Hanson.


Charlotte Hall.