Gemma hopes she’s fit for telly


Gemma Hallatt-Howard. 184466-10

BIKINI athlete Gemma Hallatt-Howard could be on the verge of TV fame.

The Rotherham resident is hoping she will be chosen to appear in a new series following the fortunes of contestants as they train for a small screen competition.

But there will be no professional judges – and the winner will be selected by the TV audience.

The Body Idols show is being developed for TV but budding participants like Gemma are already battling for public votes to push them ahead to be chosen to take part.

The show will be filmed next May and June and would see Gemma followed by a camera crew as she undergoes training for the programme.

But far from being worried about the consequences of TV fame in the wake of the Love Island and Big Brother scandals, Gemma is positively looking forward to being a reality TV celebrity.

“It will be fun,” she said.

Gemma has become a rising star in the bikini modelling world and achieved success in competitions.

Whilst most people would be worried at the idea of parading in front of an audience and being judged on their body, the 37-year-old is happy to do it in a micro bikini.

Last October, she was placed fourth in Britain in the Ultimate Bikini Model over 163cm category at the UK Ultimate Physiques (UKUP) British finals in York.

She has done well with 12 placings between first and fifth in competitions since 2014.

Gemma Hallatt-Howard relaxing at home. 191125

Competitions have been put on hold this year as she and husband Phil have been caring for beloved pet dog Harley who had to undergo a lifesaving operation.

But now that Harley is well on the way to a full recovery, Gemma is aiming for success in the TV show.

She even has a new coach, Marquis Muscle, who has freed her from the headache of having to develop her own training regime.

“It’s been hard to hand the reins over but it’s nice not to have to think,” she said.

The difference between traditional bodybuilding and bikini fitness is based on body shape. Bodybuilders have big physiques whereas bikini fitness enthusiasts have a different body look.

There are different federations with different criteria.

Gemma said that the Body Idols show will be “Big Brother meets Pop Idol”.

Gemma Hallatt-Howard relaxing at home. 191125

She heard about the TV project via a promotion on Facebook which was asking for people to apply. She had an interview and was shortlisted.

“It’s something a bit different,” said Gemma.

Those who have been selected so far now have to fill in a journal to encourage more people to follow them online to determine who are the most popular and will get on the final show.

There will be eight weeks of preparation for those taking part in the show which will be filmed in a ‘fly on the wall’ style by a camera crew or by participants using a hand-held camera.

The coverage will highlight everything from people’s training and food habits to their social life,

But one of Gemma’s main reasons for taking part is because she believes it will be educational for viewers and teach them both about fitness but also bikini modelling competitions.

She said: “It will hopefully get people moving and will target mental health.”

She said she was pleased that everyone taking part will be drugs tested to prove that success does not have to be chemically enhanced.

“It’s going to be a natural (drug free) TV show. I am natural. I would not know where to get those things,” said Gemma.

Rather than being nervous of having a camera crew on her trail all day, Gemma thinks she will give them a run for their money.

“If I have a camera crew I will drag them on my fitness training and they will be the fittest camera crew ever,” she said.

“It will be quite strange having a camera crew with me for eight hours a day but at least it will show the real side of competing.

“I walk everywhere. The crew will be following me everywhere.

“Because of the benefits of what it’s going to achieve I hope it will open people’s eyes about health and fitness. If being on it educated five people then I have done a good job.

“That’s the reason I was interested in doing the show: it’s about pushing health and fitness forward.”

Gemma said that people may be surprised by her training regime.

“People think that preparing you need to go low calories and cardio but I don’t do that. I will be showcasing that it can be done on the correct food,” said Gemma.

She does 25 minutes of intense exercise four times a week whereas other people do two hours at a time.

“If you put in the intensity then you don’t need to do extended periods,” she said.

Gemma admitted that she has been quite “competitive” in encouraging people to vote daily for her in advance of the TV show. Voting continues until January.

“I am very competitive to get people voting,” she said.

She also admitted to getting some extra help: “My mum has been amazing. I went to see her the other day and she has been urging people to vote for me.”

Gemma said she is the only person from Rotherham who is aiming to be on the TV show.

To find out more, and to vote for Gemma, look at her Facebook and Instagram pages at and

Gemma is also looking forward to a photoshoot and may enter an upcoming competition.

Gemma has been sponsored by Ziggy’s Workhouse Gym and Karen Enhance Aesthetics, and Pennyblack Clothing is providing her with outfits. She is slso searching for a support company to help her on her way.

“I would like some more sponsors,” she said.

In a previous interview with Gemma in Chase last year, the bikini athlete and fitness model said it was important to her to set an example to young women keen to follow in her footsteps.

She said: “I would like to think I am a role model and make girls think I can do that.”

Scent from Heaven!


IF you’ve been wondering what to buy that special person in your life, then a special perfume could be high on the list of options.

Alternatively, you may be someone with good taste who wants to treat yourself.

A new perfume called Shumukh which has just been introduced to this country could tick all the boxes – though there might be just one hurdle.

Shumukh sells for £1.015 million per bottle and is the most expensive unisex perfume in the world.

Why is it so expensive? Well, it could be to do with the fact that the bottle is adorned with 3,571 diamonds, topaz, pearls and gold.

The perfume was given its global launch in Dubai in September but has now come to London.

In Arabic, Shumukh translates as “deserving the highest” and quality is certainly what well-heeled buyers will get if they purchase it.

According to its makers, the perfume unites the art of jewellery and perfumery to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that tells the tale of the great Emirate of Dubai through seven core design elements.

Set with 3,571 sparkling diamonds – totalling 38.55 carats, topaz, pearls, 2,479 grammes of 18 carat gold and 5892.88 grammes of pure silver, the piece will be showcased for public viewing at the brand’s flagship boutique in Knightsbridge this month.

Shumukh is the only perfume to hold two Guinness World Record titles, including most diamonds set on a perfume bottle and tallest remote controlled (RC) fragrance spray product.

The Spirit of Dubai Parfums by Nabeel – which has created Shumukh – is inspired by the heritage of Dubai.

Shumukh showcases the seven key elements of Dubai – pearl diving, falconry, Arabian horses, roses, luxury, Arabian hospitality, and the country’s stature as a city of the future, all of which have been intricately modelled in gold and silver, and ornamented with the highest quality VVS diamonds and precious stones.

Standing 1.97 metres tall and taking over three years and 494 perfume trials to formulate, Shumukh is comprised of fine natural ingredients sourced from across the world, culminating in a scent with notes of rare amber, sandalwood, musk, rare pure Indian agarwood, pure Turkish rose, patchouli ylang-ylang and frankincense.

The perfume is estimated to last on the skin for more than 12 hours and up to 30 days on fabric and the hand-blown Italian Murano glass bottle infused with 24 carat real gold holds three litres of perfume dispensed via a remote-controlled spray mechanism that adjusts to the user’s ideal height.

Shumukh is the concept of Asghar Adam Ali, chairman and master perfumer at Nabeel Perfumes Group of Companies. It was created by master craftsmen from France, Italy and Switzerland.

Asghar said: “With a history of passion for perfumery that has spanned 48 years and a keen eye for jewellery design, my dream was to bring to life a history in the making concept with innovation at its core.

“My vision was not only to capture Dubai’s persona in one monumental piece of art but to also create a fragrance that embodied the pinnacle of luxury in the world of perfumery.

“Today, I am very proud of Shumukh, an evocatively stunning and bespoke creation which combines the disciplines of art, jewellery design and perfumery and is concurrently also the holder of the highest number of Guinness World Records in the world of perfume industries.”

Mustafa Adam Ali

Mustafa Adam Ali, managing director of the Nabeel Perfumes Group of Companies, decided in 2015 to launch The Spirit of Dubai brand.

He said: “The time had come where oriental trends were not just targeted at Arabs. Dubai had become a booming tourist destination and a place of international commerce and travel attracting western consumers.”

The Spirit of Dubai launched its First Generation luxury collection in 2015, followed by its Second Generation ultra-luxury collection in 2016.

Mustafa said: “Our goal is to be the most innovative company in the world, be it the highest quality or rarity of our perfume ingredients, to finishing touches of our packaging and boutiques.

“Nabeel brings a rich family heritage, excellence and expertise to the fragrance connoisseur.

“The UAE is a dominant player in the world of fragrances. It’s a growing market with new players being added every year and it holds a significant market share with fine fragrances. The region boasts of many perfume connoisseurs, who spend vast amounts on different fragrances, with the usage of perfumes being higher than that of the western counterparts.”

At its manufacturing plant in Sharjah Airport International Free Zone, spanning more than 200,000 square feet, the company has matured into a renowned fragrance house that is home to four independent perfume brands – Nabeel Perfumes, Chris Adams, The Spirit of Dubai and Nuvo.

It has a workforce of more than 600 staff and exports to more than 100 countries worldwide.

Looking after baby – and helping everyone else’s!


Danielle Cliff’s Mindful Mum Club. 191149

HAVING a baby proved a life changer for one Rotherham woman – in more ways than one.

Not only did she have the sudden challenge of nappies, feeding and shifts in the everyday routine of life, she also got the idea of running a new support group.

Danielle Cliff, of Parkgate, decided that tackling the needs of a young child were so inspirational to her that she wanted to support other mums in the same situation.

So she set up The Mindful Mum Club which offers advice and practical help to make life that bit better for mothers and their children.

She says that she has learnt so much about the highs and lows of looking after a baby that she believes it is important to spread the word.

There is now an active website, Instagram and Facebook page dedicated to The Mindful Mum Club, as well as regular walks, a weekly Cuppa Club and now yoga and massage sessions for the bairns.

All in all, things are looking up for Danielle who is relishing the challenge of motherhood and running the group.

“I worked in a secondary school for six years and left in January,” said Danielle.

“I wanted to do something different now that I had my little girl.

“I struggled to deal with the changing lifestyle.

“It was very scary. I kind of had to push myself.

Danielle Cliff, 191149

“After I had my little girl I went back to school part-time but I had lost the passion for it. I thought what else can I do with my life?”

What Danielle did was qualify in practising baby yoga and massage and set about learning how she could put her new-found skills to good use.

The result was The Mindful Mum Club which she hopes to develop even further.

She found unexpected strains and stresses in suddenly having to look after a baby and realised that other mums would be in the same position, sometimes with less support than she had.

She wanted to use her baby experiences with daughter Iris to help others.

“Iris is responsible for it,” joked Danielle when explaining why the Mindful Mum Club got off the ground.

Danielle said that many new mums can feel isolated. They are perhaps at home all day after previously being at work or with an active social life.

They suddenly have to deal with a helpless human being who relies on them. They lose sleep. A newborn baby is not an easy thing to have to cope with and it can take a toll on even experienced mums, let alone first-time ones.

“Postnatal depression and anxiety and isolation are big problems,” said Danielle.

“I think depression is something that a lot of mums don’t talk about. They are worried that people will think they are not a good mum.

“It’s important we accept that having a baby is a challenge. People should not be scared to talk about it.

“Before all this I was scared of babies.”

Danielle said that by attending The Mindful Mum Club sessions she hoped that mums who feel isolated will find that support is out there, as well as important advice and friendship.

The Mindful Mum Club runs massage and yoga sessions at St Thomas’ Church Hall in Kimberworth on Monday mornings between 10am and 11am and then 11am to noon.

There is a yoga session at the Body Planners Gym in Chapeltown on Wednesdays from 1pm to 2pm.

Free Well Being Walks take place on Thursdays at 10.30am when participants walk round Greasbrough Dam. Attendees meet at the gate on the top road close to The Milton pub.

Cuppa Club takes place from 11am to 1pm on Tuesdays at Lollipop Tots at the Old Town Hall, Frederick Street in Rotherham.

People can book for any classes or get further information on The Mindful Mum Club on Facebook and Instagram, as well as the website at

Danielle said that interest in The Mindful Mum Club and its plethora of events has been good and she has high hopes for developing her idea in the future.

“If it all takes off and the classes and workshops, this will be my job,” said Danielle.

“It’s my dream.

“It’s been positive so I hope it’s going to continue to grow.

“I would love to have my own premises and a little nurture hub to provide classes and workshops.”

Danielle said that mums are taught how to massage their babies at the Kimberworth and Chapeltown sessions which helps both mother and child.

She said that massage not only provides important close skin to skin contact between mum and child, it also helps the youngster’s digestion, circulation and much else.

“It’s brilliant for both of them,” said Danielle.

Classes cost £7.50 per session or £40 for six.

Danielle said that dads have been involved too and have attended sessions, particularly the Cuppa Club get-togethers.

“I would like to do more sessions where dads can come along too,” said Danielle.

Danielle Cliff, 191149

The yoga and massage sessions also incorporate what Danielle describes as “wellbeing time for mum”.

She said that she has been to classes in the past which focused on the baby alone, whereas Danielle feels it is vital for classes to be a time where mums can socialise and learn from each other.

She said: “I have been to classes where mums are ignored so I wanted to help the mums too.”

Danielle is looking ahead and plans to develop The Mindful Mum Club even further.

Indeed, she will be running a toddler yoga session at Lollipop Tots on Tuesday afternoons from October. This class will be for children aged one to four and will be priced at £5 per child.

Being a new mum has certainly been an experience for Danielle. She may have taken an unusual track but she wants it to be a journey which will help others too.

Reliving one man’s railway journey…


Jim Mason. 191148-1

IT has been a good few years since 93-year-old Jim Mason has been in charge of driving a freight train but he still remembers his days on the railways with a sense of nostalgia.

Jim, of Swinton, worked his way up from cleaner to fireman to driver at two of the county’s busiest railway marshalling yards.

He chose the railways rather than staying on as an office worker at Denaby Colliery and said it was tough work with long hours.

Jim worked on the railways as steam trains were being replaced by diesel. It was a time of change when trains still transported large quantities of freight, as well as passengers.

“I started on the railways when I came out of the Army at the end of the war. I could have gone back to my job at Denaby Colliery but I wanted a change,” said Jim.

“My brother was on the railways.”

In the late 1940s when Jim started work, the newly nationalised British Rail had a large marshalling yard in Mexborough with 500 drivers, foremen and cleaners employed, as well as a fitting section.

Nothing remains of this vast workplace and its engine sheds today.

“It was alright but when I was cleaning the trains and using paraffin sometimes my wife would complain as I would stink of it, and my skin would be black with the dirt,” said Jim.

“But it was a friendly place, and I took an interest in trade unionism and eventually became the branch secretary of ASLEF. We had branch meetings every month,.

“But working there was dangerous. You had to be very careful. The rules were probably not as strict as today but we had a rule book and if you broke a rule you were up in front of the gaffer.”

Jim said he enjoyed working at Mexborough and witnessed the changes in the railway industry at first hand.

He saw electric engined trains based in Wath which were used to take take freight to Manchester, for instance.

Born in Denaby, Jim got his first job at Denaby Colliery where his father worked,. It was an office job recording the men going down the pit and coming back out again.

But when war broke out there was a ballot of workers because it was a restricted occupation where people did not have to sign up due to the importance of their work and Jim ended up becoming a soldier.

He served in the 6th battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

As an engine cleaner at Mexborough, his work was to wipe grease and grime off the locos. He had to clean two engines per shift so it was gruelling work.

He had to climb into the train framings.

“It was not really hard but was just mucky,” said Jim.

After a while he became a fireman, standing on the footplate alongside the driver of steam trains which were used by British rail until eh 1960s when they were phased out.

But having to go on train journeys offered up new challenges for Jim.

“It was the shifts that were more of a problem. We had to work nights and sleep in the days. But it was a living and I could not pick and choose,” said Jim.

Financially, becoming a fireman was a step up. A cleaner got about £4 a week where as a fireman got £5. A driver would be over the £6 mark.

But if he wanted promotion, Jim found that he would have to move away from Mexborough and start work at the railway site in Canklow where there was a vacancy for a driver in 1964.

People may think that to become a train driver would be the result of long periods of intensive training, as would be the case today, but Jim said that there was none back in the day.

New drivers learnt how to drive a train by watching the driver of the train where they worked as a firemen.

Budding drivers would take their final test by driving a train with an inspector watching in the cab. If they got to their destination safely, they would pass!

“When I went o Canklow I didn’t get any training. The only training we got was learning the routes we were going on,” said Jim.

”When I went o pass for driving I had to take control of a passenger train with the inspector behind me. It was a passenger train from Sheffield to Manchester.

“When you got to Manchester the inspector would pass you out. There were chaps who failed because they couldn’t drive a train.

“You just had to watch the driver when you were a fireman to learn how to drive. You followed what drivers were doing. The railway company was getting training on the cheap.

“When you are driving an electric or diesel train you don’t have to think about whether you have enough steam or water.”

Jim said that working in a freight depot meant he did not have much opportunity to drive passenger trains.

But freight was an important feature of the railways back then, much more than is the case today.

“There were thousands of tons of coal going over the Pennines,” said Jim.

“There were different sorts of freight, such as iron to Scunthorpe from the Midlands.”

Jim would drive trains as far afield as Cleethorpes and Birmingham. He said that although he was supposed to do an eight hour shift, that would often be summarily extended to 12 or more if replacement staff did not turn up.

“If control had no one to replace you you had to carry on going,” said Jim.

“You never knew if you were going to get home.”

Jim said that he had been involved in three bad accidents during his time as a train driver. On one occasion he was approaching Masbrough Sorting Sidings when he felt a bump. His train, in foggy weather, had hit a man who had been walking down the line.

“As long as it’s not your fault you don’t feel guilty about it,” said Jim.

Jim later worked at Masbrough and finally at the Tinsley marshalling depot until he retired early aged 62.

Jim has not travelled by train recently but has a high opinion of modern trains which he said are more comfortable and much safer.

“It was harder work when it was steam than with diesels,” said Jim.

“But the drivers now have to be more alert.

“Steam trains were mucky so I don’t really miss them.”

He volunteered as a fireman on the Earl Fitzwilliam steam train based at Elsecar Heritage Centre for a while.

Jim, who has been married to his wife Connie since 1948, looks back at his time on the railways with pride, remembering his former colleagues.

“There were some good people that I worked with,” he said.

Let’s have a good old chinwag…


YORKSHIRE folk may have a reputation for being taciturn but it seems that we are at least on good terms with our neighbours, even if they are from Lancashire or the South.

A recent survey has found that Yorkshire and Humberside residents are amongst the most likely to speak to their neighbours.

People in the South East and Scotland are the least chatty.

The new study has found that British residents are getting friendlier with their neighbours, with two thirds admitting they speak to their neighbours regularly and a further two in five revealing they know the majority of their neighbours by name.

This research was conducted after a study in 2016 previously found that one in three Britons couldn’t name any of their neighbours.

The study, conducted by the home interior specialists, quizzed more than 2,400 UK-based adults across the 12 regions of the UK about life in their neighbourhood.

When asked if they spoke regularly – at least once a week – with their neighbours, two thirds of respondents claimed that they did (66 per cent).

Talking about issues with their neighbourhood topped the list of topics spoken about (78 per cent) followed by the weather (55 per cent) and plans for the day (49 per cent).

A further two in five respondents revealed they knew the majority of their neighbours by name (41 per cent). In contrast to the 2016 poll where one in three could not name any of their neighbours, just one in nine (11 per cent) said this was the case now.

One in seven respondents had previously invited neighbours round for dinner (14 per cent).

More than one in five (21 per cent) said they preferred to ask their neighbours to house sit or look after pets whilst they were away from home over their family or friends.

Lucy Askew, spokesperson for, said: “With so much negative news, it is great to see a sense of togetherness through neighbourly communities.

“It doesn’t cost anything to be nice and making friends with neighbours can lead to a lovely tight knit friendship group close to home.

“I am glad these stats have changed since the previous study back in 2016 wherein it implied Britons were shutting themselves away from their neighbourhood.”

Where do the chatty neighbours live?

The figures show what percentage of those who said they talk to their neighbours live:

  1. Northern Ireland – 19 per cent
  2. Yorkshire and Humberside – 15 per cent
  3. West Midlands – 13 per cent
  4. North East – 12 per cent
  5. Wales – 11 per cent
  6. South West – 9 per cent
  7. London – 7 per cent
  8. North West – 5 per cent
  9. East of England – 4 per cent
  10. East Midlands – 2 per cent
  11. South East – 2 per cent
  12. Scotland – 1 per cent

Top coaches set to help kids boost soccer skills


YOUNGSTERS can learn football skills from the best at a series of special kickabouts this month.

Manchester City FC coaches will be holding training sessions for Reception and Year 1 children in Mexborough.

The free sessions will be taking place at Mexborough Athletic Sports Club on New Oxford Road on Saturday, September 21, between 9.30am and 11.30am.

Full details and registration of interest can be made by telephoning 07568 588278 or emailing

No-one can attend without receiving a booking confirmation and the session time will be confirmed at the time of booking.

Getting fitter – on the high street?


THE findings of a new survey suggest that you don’t need to pound the pavements in a tracksuit or work hard in the local gym to get fitter.
Shopping is the new way of keeping in trim in the minds of many people, it seems.

Over half of Rotherham residents consider going out and buying stuff a form of exercise, the survey suggests.

The survey of 2,750 Brits by online shopping website also found that:

  • Over half of Rotherham residents would not walk 20 minutes to buy something;
  • Nearly one in five people would be put off walking somewhere if it was raining;
  • More than one in ten people would rather take the lift than walk up one flight of stairs;
  • A third of people in the UK avoid doing exercise altogether;
  • Two thirds of people say they are too busy to do enough exercise;
  • More than two in five people say online shopping has freed up more time for other things.

In a time when obesity is said to be at epidemic proportions — it is due to double by 2035 — the survey suggests that people are perhaps being a tad lazy when it comes to exercising.

Nearly half – 46 per cent – said that they considered shopping to be part of their exercise routine. The figure in Rotherham is 52 per cent.

When broken down by gender, it was found that women are more likely to treat a shopping spree for their season’s new wardrobe as part of their exercise routine than men – 51 per cent compared to 39 per cent. asked people how far they would be prepared to walk to buy something and nearly half – 48 per cent – said they wouldn’t be prepared to walk for just 20 minutes.

When broken down across the UK, it appears Londoners are the laziest, where 55 per cent said they would not walk a mile – though West Midlanders weren’t that fussed either with 54 per cent preferring to jump in a car rather than take a brisk stroll.

For Londoners, it could be that the city’s excellent public transport infrastructure makes getting around by road or rail a better option than on foot.

More than half – 51 per cent – of those in Rotherham said that they would not walk a mile to buy something with men (47 per cent) less willing than women (49 per cent) to walk to buy something.

The survey also revealed that nearly one fifth of us would be put off walking anywhere if it was raining.

The survey also found that one in ten, when presented with the choice, would rather take the lift than walk up just one flight of stairs.

Craig Larkin, of, said: “It’s interesting to read that whilst many Brits consider shopping part of their exercise regime, many wouldn’t willingly walk for just 20 minutes to get there.

“The growth of online shopping has freed up more time for Brits to do other activities, such as going to the gym.”

Coming soon!!!

Out this Friday – the fab September edition of Chase Magazine, free with this week’s Rotherham Advertiser.

Great features, top pictures, fashion, motors, wine…and a quiz!What more could you want?

Make sure you get hold of your copy.

Back from the war to a reception for heroes

Tom Potter shortly after signing up


A TRAIN carrying 25 men arrived at Masbrough Station at 12.25pm on June 19, 1919 — and heralded one of the biggest celebrations in Rotherham’s history.

The precious party alighted to the platform where they shook hands with the mayor, Ald George Gummer, and prepared themselves to greet the huge crowds outside.

These passengers — five officers and 20 men — were the last of the 5th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment to return from France after the Great War.

Rotherham was the regiment’s headquarters and spiritual home — and that day a century ago it seemed as if all of the town’s residents had turned out to express their thanks to the soldiers.

There was hardly a dry eye anywhere as people were overjoyed at the return of these men and peace and saddened thinking of those lost to the conflict.

The Advertiser reported at the time: “Remarkable scenes of enthusiasm — such as have not been seen in Rotherham since the early days of the war, were witnessed on Thursday when the cadre and colours of the 5th Batt. York and Lancaster Regiment returned from France after over four years strenuous service on the Western Front.

“It was as late as Wednesday before the mayor was able to announce the actual time. The inhabitants of Rotherham rose to the occasion in a splendid manner.

“Flags hung from many private residences, whilst many people sported patriotic colours in their coats and dresses.”

From the relative hush of the railway platform at Masbrough, the men stepped outside to be met by a massive cheer and a band playing Auld Lang Syne.

They processed the mile to the town centre via Main Street and High Street with a mounted escort and thousands of onlookers, who tried every trick to obtain the best view — the steepness of Doncaster Gate making it a popular vantage point.

The Advertiser article said: “Just as the procession was nearing its destination the church bells rang out a merry peal, and this continued until the speech-making commenced.

“On College Square itself the arrival of the cadre and flags was the signal for another spontaneous chorus of cheers which lasted several minutes.”

Once he could be heard above the noise, the mayor said: “It is my proud privilege, on behalf of the town, to tender to you our warmest congratulations on your safe return, and offer to you, as representative of all those who have returned previously, a very, very hearty welcome.”

The return of the 5th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment at College Square on June 19, 1919. Tom is standing between the two soldiers are carrying the regimental colours

Joyce Evans (66), of Leeds, researched the occasion because her great uncle Sgt Tom Potter was one of the returning soldiers.

He wrote in his diary about the welcome they had received in Rotherham — and it struck her how much the day stayed with him.

She said: “What comes across with the Rotherham celebrations is the pride they had, and how much they had worked together, through any class differences.

“You can imagine, had it not been for that celebration in Rotherham, he would have just gone back to work. I think it was really important in helping him go forward when he got back from the war.”

Tom, from rural North Yorkshire, wrote: “It was a great day for us all. We marched from the station to the square in the centre of the town with the colours flying.

“A vast crowd had gathered in the square which included several mayors from surrounding towns, towns from which the men of the battalion had been recruited.

“We had a wonderful reception and then a dinner at the Crown Hotel. The next day the local newspapers were full of the news and photographs of the reception.”

Joyce described how photos from the day reflect the more sombre aspects of the occasion too. “The rejoicing and pride was intermixed with remembrance and sorrow,” she added. “Of 4,587 soldiers who served with the battalion, 850 men and 41 officers died. Seventy-two out of every 100 were killed or injured.”

Tom, who died in 1994, kept a lengthy account of his life — including 24 sides of A4 on his war experience.

“The diary is very special,” said Joyce. “It’s from an ordinary soldier’s point of view, when so many of these accounts are by people from more middle class backgrounds.

“In another part of the diary, he’s in the middle of all this horrendous fighting, but all he talks about are the football matches.”

Back in the square in Rotherham 100 years ago, the mayor ended the event by wishing the men well in their futures, including in settling into civilian life and regular employment.

Rising to a splendid ovation, Col TWH Mitchell also hoped that the men would be able to get work at a proper wage.

The next day Tom left Rotherham for Ripon, where he swapped his equipment for his demobilisation papers.

But finding suitable work proved tricky. While serving in France, Tom had refused a promotion to officer’s rank and so was only offered the job of relief porter at North Allerton station after the war.

He explained in his diary that he had declined the army commission because he felt a strong connection with his comrades and did not wish to leave them for another regiment.

But Joyce said: “Tom had placed more value on the comradeship of his fellow soldiers than promotion to officer rank. That was quite something.

“Did his Military Medal for bravery at the Battle of Kemmel Ridge and his training as a signaller count for nothing back in Civvy Street? Did the words of the dignitaries that day in Rotherham ring hollow in his ears?

“Eventually, through hard work and determination he did achieve a managerial role on the railways.

“Tom never spoke about his wartime experiences but I think he would always carry in his memory

Rotherham’s tribute to its territorial soldiers shown on that day in June 1919.”