The faces of famous Sheffield students-gone-by line the street, with the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill and Dan Walker watching over you whenever you make a trip to the Diamond. John Gilding takes a look at some of Sheffield’s other successful products who, for one reason or another, didn’t quite make the cut.


Eddie Izzard

Izzard studied Accounting and Financial Management at Sheffield in the 1980s, but left before finishing his degree to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. 

Around 40 years later, that decision seems to have paid off, as he is regarded as one of Britain’s finest comic exports, and has appeared in a number of successful productions, like Ocean’s Twelve, Ocean’s Thirteen and, well, Cars 2.

Some of his most famous achievements though have come from running marathons though. In 2009 he ran 43 marathons in 51 days across the UK, and in 2016 he completed 27 marathons in 27 days in South Africa, raising money for Sport Relief on both occasions. 

In 2010, he was voted in as Honorary President of our SU, celebrating his successes since leaving the University.


Sir Donald Bailey

An unsung hero of World War Two, Donald Bailey graduated from the University of Sheffield with an engineering degree in 1923. 

He invented the Bailey Bridge (brilliant engineering mind, not as creative when it came to naming things), which was a pre-assembled portable bridge that could be built quickly, without any specialised equipment, to allow tanks and infantry to cross rivers as they made their way across Europe. 

By the end of the war, US and British troops had built over 4,000 bridges, over 2,500 of them in Italy, and Bailey received a knighthood for his contribution to the war victory.

Sheffield engineers, you’ve got some big boots to fill.


Amy Johnson – Pioneer Aviator

Although she does have a building named after her, Amy Johnson didn’t make it onto the Sheffield walk of fame, but it’s difficult to to work out why not.

After graduating from the University of Sheffield with an economics degree, she took up flying as a hobby, and proceeded to become rather good at it. 

She broke numerous records throughout her career, and perhaps most famously, she was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.

In the war, she continued her flying career as part of the Air Transport Auxiliary, moving RAF equipment around the country. It was in this role that she sadly died, in some mysterious circumstances in the Thames Estuary.


Joseph Marcell (Well, not really)

He definitely didn’t, but there is an odd rumour floating around the internet that the actor Joseph Marcell, best known for playing the long-suffering butler Geoffrey in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,  studied at the University of Sheffield.

Originally from Saint Lucia, he’s also an accomplished Shakespeare actor, having played King Lear in a Shakespeare Globe world tour of, surprisingly, King Lear, amongst numerous other roles.

As well as huge American sitcoms and Shakespeare, he’s been in some British classics; he had a stint on Eastenders, appeared in Holby City, Doctor Who and the masterpiece that is Death In Paradise.

It’s an illustrious career, that’s for certain, but sadly not one that started in Sheffield. He said so himself:

Featured image caption: Sheffield’s answer to the Hollywood walk of fame, featuring some of the University’s most successful students (Credit: Forge Press)


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