In conversation with the new Lord and Lady Mayor of Sheffield

Colin and Susan Ross, the newly appointed Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Sheffield, met at a Sheffield disco. Now, as they step into their new roles, they’re honoured to serve the city and its people who made their journey possible.

Colin and Susan Ross wearing the traditional gowns as Lord and Lady Mayor of Sheffield

It all started at Sheffield 

Their time as Sheffield students, Colin (BSc Hons Geology 1974, PGCE Education 1975) and Susan (BSc Geology 1976, PGCE Education 1977, MEd Education 1992) not only cultivated their passion for geology, but it also uncovered shared hobbies that strengthened their bond. Their paths converged when they met through Colin's housemate and later crossed again at a lively Sheffield disco night. Soon after that, they were spending their free time walking in Derbyshire, exploring the majestic Sheffield outdoors, hanging out with their friends from the Geology Society and, ultimately, marrying. 

Colin Ross: One of my favourite memories as a Sheffield student was the social life. We spent a lot of time at the discos in the 1970s, especially after lectures and practicals. We used to go to the Beehive, Red Deer, Nottingham House and Broomhill Tavern.

Susan Ross: We did actually work and study. It sounds as if all we did was go out! 

Colin Ross: Oh yes, the thing that captured a lot of people was the legend that was Professor Moore, who was the professor of Geology. He gave the first-year lectures and he was inspirational with a lovely west country accent. He just engaged a lot of people, myself included. And the field trips were always the highlight because it was a really good bonding experience, going away with the same 40 people you study with.

Colin Ross graduating from the University of Sheffield

As every Sheffield alum knows, the friendships made in Sheffield are forever - and Colin and Susan are no exception. More than three decades have passed, and their friendships have only grown stronger.

Colin Ross: We're in touch with most of the 40 who graduated. And a hardcore group of us go away every year. I have just been to various 70th birthday parties!

Sheffielders by choice

Colin and Susan fell in love not only for each other but also for Sheffield. Little did they know that it would become their home. It was the place that felt right for them to establish their family and careers, and discover a new passion – civic service. As they embark on their new roles as Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Sheffield, Colin and Susan find themselves looking back on how the University of Sheffield laid the foundation for this exciting journey.

Susan Ross's portrait as Sheffield graduate

Susan Ross: As students, I think we grew to love the city and we were quite happy to stay here. 

Colin Ross: We obviously think Sheffield is special because we chose it to make it our home. I think what's prepared us for these new roles is the 40 to nearly 50 years that we've lived in Sheffield.

Both: We are not Sheffielders by birth, but we’re Sheffielders by choice. 

Colin Ross: It's a great honour to be the new Lord Mayor of Sheffield. I want to represent the city of Sheffield and for Sheffield to be proud of their Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress. Previous Lord Mayors have said to me, ‘you think you know Sheffield, but you find out things about the city that you didn't know existed’. So we're looking forward to discovering even more.

Despite the challenges and learning curves that come with these roles, Colin and Susan are brimming with enthusiasm to represent the city that played a pivotal role in their personal growth. With their acquired Sheffield-ish accents, they are wholeheartedly dedicated to advocating for the needs and rights of the people they serve.

Colin Ross: I want to shout about Sheffield's achievements. It's easy to shout about them in Sheffield but I want to project them outside the city and beyond. We want to promote the AMRC. You go in there, and you see Boeing, Rolls Royce and McLaren, you know, and think ‘Crikey, there are real prestigious industries and companies and they're located in Sheffield’. Let's celebrate that!

I’m also quite excited about these once-a-month citizenship ceremonies. I’ve done a couple before. It’s quite moving and it means a lot to the people becoming British citizens.

Susan Ross: The first one you did, you came back home and you were really buzzing. You were really excited. You brought a list of how many nationalities were represented, not a list of names, but just the countries they come from. It was interesting.

Colin Ross: We go to lots of community events. The city is run by volunteers and we’re honoured to celebrate and acknowledge them. There are all sorts of community groups where people are giving a huge amount of their own personal time and energy. From litter pickers to fundraising for children's playgrounds, and all sorts. There are a lot of things going on that need to be celebrated and recognised. Sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to recognise and reward them all, but we'll do as many as we can during the year. I want to give people time, space and recognition. It's not about me, it's about them. 

Susan Ross: We're used to interacting with different people. As former secondary school teachers, we’re used to interacting with parents, local employers, colleges, etc. I think that's quite helpful because you need to be able to talk to lots of different people. We have 35 years each of teaching experience and for Colin nearly 30 years as a local Councillor as well.

Colin Ross: We are going to work with St. Luke’s Hospice, a charity that is dear to a lot of people in Sheffield. They need to raise seven and a half million pounds a year. But we're doing it for a specific purpose -  a cuddle bed. They are basically a hospital bed with an extension. So loved ones can get into bed with the patient in their final moments. 

Susan Ross: One of the things I'd like to do is get groups of volunteers from different organisations into the Lord Mayor’s Parlour for a cup of tea and a piece of cake to say thank you. I think it will mean a lot to the people who give their time and energy to show them they are recognised and appreciated.

An unforgettable experience

For Colin and Susan Ross, their time at the University of Sheffield was unforgettable. They are confident that the University continues to nurture students to be courageous, authentic, and ready to take a stand, initiating transformative changes here in Sheffield and extending their impact to the world at large.

To all Sheffield students:

Colin Ross: Enjoy your time. Keep the balance between the social life and studying. There are a couple of people we know who didn't manage to graduate because they enjoyed their social time too much and dropped out in the second year. It's all about balance. Make good use of your time here because it won't come again.