Nat Loftus

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Tell us about you…

I moved to Sheffield in 2000 after waking up in the middle of the night as a 19-year-old in Nottingham with a strong feeling that Sheffield was the place I should be. I barged my way onto the journalism course at Sheffield University and by the time I graduated, the city had become my home. These days I'm better known as singer-songwriter Nat Johnson, though I've had all manner of jobs in the city, from temping in offices after uni while I spent half the time touring the country with my band Monkey Swallows the Universe to more recent stints at Sensoria Festival and the Showroom Cinema.

What does Sheffield mean to you?

Sheffield means peace, safety and green spaces but at the same time excitement, culture and opportunity. It's a place I can enjoy with the people I love as well as gorging on its many special places in joyful solitude. I'm interested in the effects of our environment on our outlook, moods and mental health and I like to think we're wealthy in terms of our healing and invigorating landscapes. Also Sheffield is perfectly sized; it's small enough that you can know nearly everyone but big enough for you not to feel claustrophobic.

What’s your favourite Sheffield place?

I love Sheffield's parks and woodland but would struggle to pick a favourite. Perhaps Endcliffe Park as it seems to work some magic on me on every visit, as if my mind feels more fertile when I'm there; it's a place that always seems to provoke new thoughts and ideas in me. I also love to wander further from the city in places like Padley Gorge, around the dams and along old railway trails.

What would you do to improve the city?

Like a lot of people, I worry about the future of our city in terms of it retaining its independent spirit, creative heart and character in the face of money-driven businesses. I don't want our city centre to become soulless and glass-fronted and I don't want to see independent businesses priced out. Less and less I hear the phrase used about Sheffield being a big village – I'd hate for it to lose that feeling, and the way that so many different communities are integrated within its centre is part of that.

All contributions from Nat Loftus