History of Sheffield SPEAK, Part 1: The Origin of the SPEAKcies

In the first of our epic four-part history of the Sheffield University SPEAK group, ex-president Mike Bourne tells the tale of the group's early years!

I joined Sheffield SPEAK in September 2004, at a time when the group had recently won its battle to be recognised as a student society. Previously, the group had been meeting in the basement of a local health food shop called New Roots. I don't know much about those days, but I know the group was small and led by a lady named Ros. An ex-SPEAK member from that time once told me that they basically used to just get together in New Roots basement and pray for increase in the group. I'm personally convinced that we rode the waves of those prayers until (at least) the Big Dress in 2008.

Anyway, when I joined the group was led by a couple of heroes named Paul and Lois. We had a weekly morning prayer meeting and a more action-ey meeting (also weekly). It was all very bottom-up with people leading sessions on issues they were passionate about such as Water Aid and the civil war in Uganda. The group was a nice size with usually about 10 people at each meeting, and many more on the periphery. That was the year (2005) we (should-be) famously took 37 people to Soundcheck!

The most regular of the first years to attend were me and my friend Beth, so at Soundcheck we were asked to lead the group along with a second year called Louise. We had a wonderful group in my second year (2005-6) and the highlight for me was our "Unfair Funfair" on the concourse, where we had various games, such as a table football which was tilted and with one goal much bigger than the other, to demonstrate unfair global trade rules.

I then left Sheffield for a year (2006-7) and Beth continued to lead the group with a gentleman named Steve. It was during this year that we volunteered to host the Big Dress in the spring of 2008.

There's so much to tell of the Big Dress I'm gonna have to save it for another post. See you on the other side!