Meet the team behind Sunbridgewells

The foundations of a great team

Forged from one man’s dream and made a reality with his dedicated team, the magnificent Sunbridgewells was born. You’ve heard the sayings, ‘teamwork makes the dream work’, ‘there’s no I in team’ and ‘it takes both sides to build a bridge’. When Graham Hall decided he was going to make something of the old Victorian tunnels, a good team around him was just what he needed. But who are these good men and what do they bring to the award-winning Sunbridgewells?

Here, we meet the team who helped breathe life back into Bradford’s underground tunnels and them who strive to keep this glorious venue full of soul once more.

Binder X Lal

A former lecturer and a 3D Concept Artist specializing in Architecture, Binder deals with most of the ‘in-house’ digital asset creations for Sunbridgewells. An early riser, 5:30 am on average, he finds he is most productive on a morning as this is when he can let his creative juices flow. A huge fan of creativity in general, when asked what his passions are in life, Binder explains, ‘’I love starting out with a brief proposal by a client and then emerging with a design or model that hopefully blows their socks right off. Each project will come with its own unique set of challenges but I never miss a job deadline. For this, I frequently get complimented.’’ Quite suitably, Binder’s personal motto is ‘you have one chance, so make it happen’.

Describing himself as fun, creative and mad, Binder loves nothing more than taking things apart, putting them back together and generally being a digital nerd by his own admission. He is currently reading two books; The Tools of the Titans by Tim Ferriss and Get Some Headspace by Andy Puddicombe. Ever the learner, he says his biggest accomplishment was becoming the youngest ever lecturer at just 22 years old. Impressive. I want to know what Binder would do even if he didn’t get paid to do it. With a laugh he says, ‘’I would learn more about why I’m not getting paid, then I would learn to get paid.’’

On a Sunday you can find Binder relaxing in the pub surrounded by friends and relishing a few world beers whilst they enjoy many a laugh. After all, the one ‘lesson from mum’ that he still lives by today is to have fun, no matter what you choose to do with your life.

Sean Kirkley

Dynamic and on the ball, Sean is the in-house manager of Sunbridgewells. Having graduated from the University of Central Lancashire and with a keen passion for sport, at aged 18, he got his first full-time job in a bar. Sean soon found himself thriving and he was excited at the prospect of enjoying this profession full time as his chosen career. Over the years Sean has worked for the regional brewery, Timothy Taylors, managing their different bars, he then took up a job offer in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, before coming home and settling in Bradford at Sunbridgewells. An avid fan of development, Sean says, ‘’No two days are the same here and that's something I love about my job. I can wake up and expect to be doing one thing and then something will happen that results in my day going in a totally different direction.’’

Sean admits and in no particular order, that the loves of his life are, food, sport, family and his missus. He also possesses a huge amount of enthusiasm for the work he does, describing himself as being outgoing, motivated and maybe a little sarcastic. He’s also proud to say that he leads an exceedingly happy life with only a few bugbears, empty glasses on tables, unclean tables and flat beer. Well, who can blame him?

After another successful shift you can usually find Sean enjoying a well-deserved pint of cask-ale or if it’s the weekend, maybe a mojito or two. Sean say’s the secret to his success is ‘’Work hard, play hard.’’

 Manager of Sunbridgewells; Sean Kirkley

Manager of Sunbridgewells; Sean Kirkley

Mark Furniss

Mark is Graham’s oldest friend and having worked together for the last 15 years, he was one of the first to be called upon in the early days of Sunbridgewells. Quiet mannered and a thinker, Mark is complemented mostly for his adept ability to always get the job done. As chief administrator for the tunnels, he admits his days can be a little hectic but purposefully he insists, ‘’We’re lucky to be here so I love to get on with it. Life is a passion.’’

If you happen to bump into Mark at Sunbridgewells his favourite refreshment is a pint of anything hand pulled and on a Sunday morning you can usually find him kicking back with a full English and reading the latest papers. Speaking of reading, in his spare time, Mark also loves nothing more than to pore over a good book. His current read is the memoirs of Julian Maclaren-Ross, a British novelist of the 50’s and 60’s who, due to alcoholism, sadly missed out on being one of the greats. Being very straight forward in his nature Mark also tells me his pet hates are lateness and Celine Dion. Baby, this is getting serious.

Mark says his biggest professional accomplishment was getting the Sunbridgewells development started, even when, quite worryingly for the team, the well had run dry. Two ‘lessons from mum’ that he also still lives by is to always be straightforward and never try to be anybody else. Ever the philosopher, Mark’s personal motto is, ‘’Success for its own sake is empty. Ideas are exciting and they are what makes things happen.’’

 From left to right; Mark Furness, Binder X Lal and Jonathan White, fellow director of Sunbridgewells

From left to right; Mark Furness, Binder X Lal and Jonathan White, fellow director of Sunbridgewells

Visit Bradford's award-winning Sunbridgewells

Take a trip to Sunbridgewells and just maybe you’ll bump into Binder, Sean or Mark. It’s pretty safe to say that Graham has a winning team around him and together they provide the perfect setting for a social pint, a historic tour or a pre-shopping coffee whilst taking in the fine art and culture of Bradford’s tunnels.

You would also be forgiven for wondering how this persevering team even knew where to start back in the early days. From a tunnel of rubble to now the UK’s only underground food and drink venue, these admirable individuals have proved that with the right team and the right amount of teamwork, anything is possible.

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, ‘‘You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.’’

Written and published by Hannah King

Posted on February 6, 2018 .