CHESTERFIELD CHAMPION: ‘Chesterfield folk enjoy being part of a community’

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My name is Mike Firth, I’m 57 years old and have been a local journalist for 39 years.

I set up magazine company Heron Publications Ltd with my wife Helen in 2002.

Helen and I have a pony-mad teenage daughter Olivia, who attends Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School.

I began my career as a trainee reporter at the Derbyshire Times in 1977 and, for four years I was the weekly sports editor.

I later edited the Chesterfield Gazette and Chesterfield Express free newspapers.

Heron Publications, based in Dronfield, is the company behind a number of glossy, free-delivered magazines.

1. What’s your best memory of the town?

I have fond memories of the town in the 1970s and 80s when I began work. In those days, a small group of local journalists would meet up in cosy town centre pubs each lunchtime – The Welbeck, Barley Mow and The County spring to mind.

There was terrific camaraderie, even between reporters from competing newspapers.

2. What development do you think will make the biggest difference to the town?

Chesterfield Waterside. It’s going to give Chesterfield a whole new dimension, being to the east of the town centre.

I recently took a look around the site and it is an enormous piece of land. Chesterfield Waterside is larger than any other current town centre development in the country.

3. How would you describe Chesterfield to someone who has never visited?

I’m sure everyone who answers this question remarks on the town’s friendliness – and it’s right to do so. Chesterfield folk enjoy feeling like a part of a community and they are generally so proud of their town.

4. What are the positives of running a business here?

The town isn’t a small place, but it is still of a size where business people tend to know each other. Talk to one business owner about an issue you have and he or she will most likely be able to recommend another trader or professional who might be able to help you.

5. Who or what do you turn to in Chesterfield for business advice?

Local authorities, Destination Chesterfield and the East Midlands Chamber are always keen to help but, as explained above, other people in business in the town are generally happy to pass on the benefit of their knowledge and experiences.

6. Why did you choose to base your business in Chesterfield?

Having been employed by three newspapers in north Derbyshire, and also living here for most of my life, I knew the pride people have in local towns and villages. Our magazines highlight this, showcasing countless success and achievements.

7. Who do you admire in the community?

Anyone who puts themselves forward to serve their community – either as a local councillor, volunteer or charity fundraiser.