There are few volunteers at Bluebell Wood with a backstory as colourful as BBC Radio Sheffield host, Reverend Andrew Platts.

The multi-talented man of the cloth’s impressive CV includes appearances on Top of the Pops, a critically acclaimed classical album and a later-life reinvention as a minister on the airwaves.

Now Andrew, 62, from Elsecar, is plugging into his past and his lifelong passion for music as a volunteer at Bluebell Wood’s youth group for those aged 14 - 25.

“Originally discussions were centered on me forming a pastoral role of some description,” said the married dad-of-two. 

“But then I became involved in the youth group. I’m open to use my pastoral experience if that’s what people want – but I’m not here to convert anyone. Just to chat and share my experiences and to have some fun.”

Andrew has no shortage of experiences to share and plans to enlist some of his talented friends to deliver a range of engaging activities to the group.

Growing up in a musical household in High Green, Sheffield, he followed generations before him by joining the Chapeltown Brass band.

Eventually becoming a professional musician, he spent his late teens and early twenties touring with Jimmy James and the Vagabonds where he played the trombone as well as keyboard and vocals.

His music career saw him appear on Top of the Pops as well as playing sold out venues up and down the country.

“It was a great time. And I recognise that I was deeply fortunate to be doing what I was doing. Many never get that opportunity,” he reflected. 

Andrew married in 1980, and then took a different path by going to work as a senior manager for a large UK PLC. He went on to launch his own firm, a chemical business called Amity, in 1990. The firm was interested in looking for greener chemical alternatives, and even worked with the Industrial Development arm of the United Nations.

His foray into the chemical industry lasted 25 years, but music was never far away from his mind. 

In the 1990s he set up his own record label, which led to his classical theatre ensemble, Harlequin Brass, being awarded Classical FM CD of the year.

The critical acclaim did not equate to commercial success, but Andrew had no qualms with what he described as a “financial disaster”.

“I got into it purely for the enjoyment,” he said.

“It’s something that I’m enormously proud of – all of us who were involved were. I think we only did it because we were naïve – we only saw reasons as to why, not why not.” 

Andrew also found time to get involved with the local music press in the shape of popular Sheffield freesheet, The Mercury, where his son Dave Platts serves as design director.

His ecclesiastical journey began in 2012, following the death of his mum. A small inheritance allowed him the freedom to retrain, and just over three years later he was officially ordained.

“I’ve always been this way minded,” he said.

“I was a chorister as a boy and it’s always stuck with me so I felt it was the right time to do it.”

Andrew’s now helmed hundreds of services, weddings and funerals as well as hosting a show on BBC Radio Sheffield once a month.

But he confesses to “name-dropping” Bluebell Wood on his varied platforms to ensure people are aware of the charity’s life-changing work.

“My overall impression of Bluebell Wood is what a happy place it is, so full of joy and fun” said Andrew.

Emma Doughty, Head of Family Support at Bluebell Wood, said: “Andrew’s certainly a fascinating character and he’s a very welcome addition to our volunteer family.

“His energy and passion for Bluebell Wood is plain to see and I know the youth group will get a great deal from spending time with him.”