Honouring Brian Wildsmith: A love for Sheffield and the gift of education

As a proud Sheffield graduate, RAF veteran, and avid sailor, Brian lived a life of passion, courage, and resilience. His enduring legacy reflects these and many more qualities, inspiring many in the process.

Sheffield alum, Brian Wildsmith, wearing a cap and looking fondly at the camera.

Brian Wildsmith was a proud Sheffield alumnus, an RAF veteran and a keen sailing enthusiast. When he sadly passed away in 2022, his love for Sheffield was still ever present. It was always Brian’s wish to leave a donation to the University of Sheffield in order to support future students. And he fulfilled this wish by generously leaving a gift in his Will towards student scholarships. 

While at the University, Brian studied Modern Languages and Economics. In a letter to the University in 2010, Brian reminisced that despite performing averagely in his degree, his time at Sheffield was still an experience he remembered with great fondness. He wrote:

“Sheffield did more for me than I realised at the time - it was character forming…there is more to look back on than to look forward to - but I wouldn’t have missed it - and Sheffield played a large part of it”.

As a student, Brian worked different holiday jobs - sorting parcels for Royal Mail at Christmas and working at the Rutland Hotel in Bakewell in the Summer. It was wages saved from these jobs that allowed him to buy his very first car from Cooper’s Scrap Yard in Attercliffe. Alongside his work, he made wonderful friends while at Sheffield, and had life-long connections to the University. This connection was only strengthened when one of his grandchildren decided to attend the University of Sheffield, giving him more reasons to visit his beloved alma mater.

When Brian graduated in 1955, he was offered a commission in the Royal Air Force for three years. When he returned home, the University appointments officer helped him secure a job with a local civil engineering firm. And this set a course for a long and successful career in the construction equipment industry. Brian then went on to set up his own business exporting construction equipment abroad. 

Outside of his burgeoning career, Brian had a great love of sailing. He particularly enjoyed sailing the East Coast on his yacht ‘Blackbird’. He also had a passion for vintage cars, and after his first car purchase all those years ago as a student, he continued to own and build numerous cars throughout his life. 

Brian Wildsmith passed away at the age of 89. He leaves in his Will a gift to support student scholarships. His generosity will make a huge tangible difference in both the academic and personal lives of students at the University of Sheffield. Scholarships allow students from disadvantaged backgrounds to have access to the same opportunities as their peers and to truly excel in higher education. 

Saying “thank you” doesn’t really express the extent of my gratitude. It’s the opportunities I’ve now had and the confidence it’s given me in my own abilities. Getting the scholarship has been recognition that I can do this and that somebody believes in me."

Richard Vyse

Experience Sheffield Scholarship Recipient

Explore the stories of other students who have benefited from scholarships

We are so grateful for Brian’s generosity and moved that the University of Sheffield held such an important place in his life. Brian’s gift will mean that his legacy will live on through the students that he supports, now and long into the future. And his connection to Sheffield will always be remembered. 

Leaving a gift in your Will or making a donation now

If you would like further information about supporting the University now or in the future, please contact David Meadows. David is our Senior Philanthropy Manager for Legacies and a Sheffield graduate himself. He would love to have a confidential chat with you about supporting the University.

Telephone: 0114 222 1073
Email: d.meadows@sheffield.ac.uk