THE topic for my column this month is ‘My Town’. Although a similar topic to my previous column, ‘My Community’, I wanted this to be stretched a bit wider than the close neighbourhood in which we live.

Whilst the town or city in which we were born is the one usually claimed by us as ‘our town’, I wondered if it is always true. Is it the town you spent most of your childhood in? The town that holds the happiest memories? The town you lived longest in? The town you live in, in the present day?

I would choose Bradford as my town. I was born here and although I have lived in various other towns, the draw has always brought me back.

Perhaps some people take ownership of a town for various reasons. They may return to a town they like and either move there or just visit regularly. This got me thinking to the much-loved comedian Billy Pearce, who has been coming to Bradford`s Alhambra every year to star in the annual pantomime, for the past 22 years, and will return there in December for yet another panto.

Billy kindly offered to write a letter for this column, so I will let him explain his connection with the city.

If you were born in Bradford in the 1940s or 50s it was a totally different city to today. Buildings, cultural, technology, the size and whole feel of the town. It`s a shame that people constantly want to compare it and live on memories. ‘Rose-tinted spectacles’ comes to mind. It means you’re looking at the past as if everything was good.

I realise life travelled at a slower pace, but life moves on. We can’t go backwards so have to hunt out the positives of present-day life in our town. Of course, the population has grown and the dynamics have changed, but we are lucky to have an eclectic mix of cultures and religions living alongside each other.

This being a column for children and young people, their perception/understanding of ‘My Town’ will naturally be based on their childhood and recent years.

Here we hear from two seven-year-olds, Fatimah and Aanisah, with their simple, uncomplicated views of Bradford. There’s also a moving letter from Lydia about her love of the city, and also her connections with Ukraine, a letter from Emma, a teenager who has moved away from her hometown to go to university, and finally a cheerful contribution from Billy Pearce and why he loves Bradford.

* I like Bradford because there are always lots of new people and new schools and there is a lot to explore. I think Bradford is such a good place to live and all the community helps you. My favourite place is the park. I like to meet friends there.

Aanisah Mahmood, seven.

* I like my town Bradford because there are lots of places to see and visit. If I had to pick to go to another city I would still love Bradford more than any city in the world.

My favourite place to shop is Broadway because there are several shops in one place. The best thing about Bradford is there is more than one person to help you.

Fatimah Afsar, seven.

* I have lived in Bradford, in the same house all my life. I always hear bad opinions about Bradford, and it upsets me. For me Bradford is a cosy city filled with different cultures. There are many activities you can do, in quite a small city.

My second hometown is Mariupol, Ukraine. Every couple of years, I would travel there to visit my friends and family. What comforted me the most was the beach there and it’s amazing how comfortable you feel with everyone.

It is terrifying to know I may not be able to visit Mariupol again because of the war.

Lydia Wilby, 17.

* I was born and brought up in Fixby in Huddersfield, with my mum, dad and older brother. Fixby is a small area which made it difficult to make friends. I mostly spent my childhood going to the local schools and strolling through nearby woods and fields.

I now live in Chester to study at university. Living in a busy city is different to what I’m used to but I still call Huddersfield my home.

Emma Karmasyn, 18

* Even though I don`t actually live in Bradford, (I was born in Leeds but now live in Morley), Bradford means the world to me. I have starred in the Alhambra panto for 22years. It`s only because I`m cheap!

Bradford has adopted me and I`m very proud indeed of my long association with the town and especially the wonderful Alhambra theatre. The people of Bradford have made me so welcome over the years and I feel at home when I’m here. I feel so happy to be part of children’s lives as they are growing up. Thank you Bradford

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Billy Pearce. Pic: Bradford TheatresBilly Pearce. Pic: Bradford Theatres

Billy Pearce (comedian, actor, entertainer).

* Lynne Dobson is an artist and retired Bradford art teacher.