MY FAVOURITE THINGS: Mik Garnock-Jones talks about his Sheffield's passions

Mike Garnock-Jones is director of the Higher Education Progression Partnership (HEPP) and is just celebrating the anniversary of his first year in this new role.

Thursday, 8th March 2018, 1:00 pm
My favourite things with Mike Garnock-Jones, Director Higher Education Progression Partnership. Mike is pictured with the HEPPSY mobile bus designed to go into more deprived areas to raise awareness of higher education opportunities with young people.

HEPP is a partnership of Sheffield Hallam, the University of Sheffield and local colleges, offering impartial advice aimed at increasing the numbers of young people progressing to higher education.

In this first year HEPP has made significant progress by targeting specific wards across South Yorkshire where there is a gap between attainment and expected progression. Mike is excited both by the partnership which now involves 36 schools and six colleges and the opportunity for innovation including the heppSY bus. He values his skilled delivery team and the support given from both local universities.

Mike, aged 58, began his career as a social worker with the homeless in Liverpool, London and Sheffield before retraining as a teacher and education manager. He has just completed 33 years working in South Yorkshire on a range of social care and educational projects. He has been a governor at Forge Valley School for seven years.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Originally from the Wirral, he settled in Sheffield in 1984 with his wife Chrissie who is head of psychology at Silverdale School. Now living in Ecclesall, they have two children living at home Rebecca and Kieran, Rosie lives on the Wirral.

Cutlers Hall

Cutlers Hall is a magnificent Grade II building and one of the finest Livery halls in the country. Well worth a visit with its collections of cutlery, art, and a Sheffield marked piece of silver for every year since 1773. The Cutlers Company have always been passionate about youth skills and, in partnership with Sheffield City Council, I have had the pleasure of working with them on the Big Challenge (a schools enterprise competition) and ‘Made in Sheffield’.

Friday Night Rides

Once a month I join a diverse group of cyclists who meet up and cycle leisurely around a Sheffield- themed route. Past themes have included Sheffield Olympians, Breweries, Phlegm and Pulchritudinous Pitsmoor. All routes are shared on their website A friendly, fun and informative way to learn more about Sheffield whilst on two wheels.


Both universities play such an important role in our city through their staff, students, buildings and their positive impact on the regional economy. I had the privilege of being a member of the platform party on several graduation ceremonies recently, a great celebration of young people’s hard work and achievements witnessed by their friends and families.


Sheffield is famous for its hills. As a keen cyclist I’m aware that every ride will involve a climb and plenty of effort. From Jenkins Hill of Tour de France fame, Hagg Hill to Mam Nick in the Peak District; we have plenty of (enforced) choices. When training for forthcoming triathlons, I try to see this extra effort as being an advantage in readiness for competing on flatter roads.

With my wife, we both qualified for GB at the 2016 World Triathlon Age Group Championships in Mexico and had the adventure of a lifetime. We raced the same course that Alistair Brownlee did when he famously helped his brother Jonnie over the line. The course was pan flat.

Bistro Pierre

This Ecclesall Road restaurant has been the venue for lots of enjoyable meals with my family and friends over the years. The French cuisine and pink leather banquettes reminds us of our happy family holidays in Brittany. Always good value with friendly service and a varied menu.

Harthill reservoir

One of my passions is open water swimming. Having completed a Channel swim for Diabetes UK in a relay team in 2012, the Coniston end to end lake swim and swimming across the Mersey twice in recent years, being able to practise at Harthill reservoir is great. All non-wetsuit swimmers know the coldest temperature they have ever swum in- mine was 3.8 degrees at Harthill. It is a lovely location and Yorkshire Outdoor Swimmers provide a friendly, safe environment for open water swimmers of all abilities to enjoy. Hot showers and the obligatory post-swim cake recommended!