Slice of Sheffield History Bagged in Auction Bid by Local Businessman

Chairman and CEO of GRI Group, Graham Royle, has become the proud owner of seven handcrafted knives, created by Sheffield-based Stuart Mitchell Knives for the production of Julius Caesar at Sheffield Theatres in 2017.

Graham, who has been a major supporter of Sheffield Theatres since 2013, cast the winning bid for this coveted and unique prize at the Theatres’ annual Gala in October, a show-stopping night of entertainment and celebration which raises vital funds to support the future work of the charity.

The one-of-a-kind set was created by local expert knife-maker Stuart Mitchell, who – from his historic workshop in Sheffield – designed and crafted the set for the production last year. He was selected specifically by Artistic Director, Robert Hastie to collaborate, having three decades in the industry under his belt and a specialism in creating custom knives. As part of the auction prize, Stuart also reground the knives for Graham, repurposing them for actual use.

As a long-time supporter of Sheffield Theatres, Graham said: ‘I feel extremely lucky to be the owner of this entirely unique set, not only as they were used on stage by actors such as Samuel West and Zoe Waitës, but because they’re a huge part of Sheffield’s steel history and have been handmade by Stuart, a fellow business owner in the city.

‘Supporting Sheffield Theatres is something my wife Susan and I take great pride in and we want to help the organisation continue to make a vital contribution to the city, both through the work on stage and off. I think it’s wonderful that Stuart has given his expertise and skills to support such a fantastic production at Sheffield Theatres and that his work has gone on to raise money to support their future work. And I can’t wait to display the knives at home!’

Stuart said: ‘I was incredibly honoured when Sheffield Theatres approached me to collaborate on this very special project; I’m delighted to have been involved, and even more so that this bespoke creation will continue to have a life after the theatre with Graham and his family.’

The knife-set was one of ten lots to be auctioned off on the night at the Gala; each lot offering a unique and theatrical experience for the lucky winner. An annual event, the Gala celebrates and profiles the impact that Sheffield Theatres’ work makes on the community and the wider industry. All funds raised on the night and throughout the year directly support the artistic work on stage as well as the community-based projects that are delivered annually.

Claire Murray, Director of Communications and Fundraising said: ‘It was important to us that the knives in our production were made on Sheffield soil as the art of the cutler is so integral to the city’s heritage. We were thrilled that Stuart generously agreed to create the knives for the show. As a registered charity, we rely on the support of donors such as Graham and Susan and on the generosity and skills of local artists such as Stuart. This has been a wonderful collaboration on many levels and feels like a great celebration of the creativity in our city.’ 

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Sheffield Theatres is the largest theatre complex outside London. Across our three auditoria: the Crucible, the Lyceum and the Crucible Studio, we offer a huge variety of home-grown and touring productions, as well as a thriving programme of participatory events and activities.