I think I can say with a fair degree of certainty that Paul wouldn’t have been a huge advocate of me standing in front of a large group of people, talking solely about him. But, when Sudha asked me to say a few words I was of the opinion that any opportunity to emphasise how Paul was one of life’s true ‘good guys’ is one that had to be taken.
I was fortunate enough to discover a shared love of running with Paul not long after he joined Howdens in 2009. We ran many hundreds of miles together over the years and I can safely say that we didn’t have many embarrassing silences to deal with. Spending such a significant amount of time with someone with no distractions enables you to get to know that person fairly well.
Paul was passionate about the outdoors and knew a lot on many topics - our lunchtime or early morning jaunts gave me the opportunity to learn any number of stats and facts – about the introduction of the Muntjack deer to the British Isles; the fluctuating populations of the red kite in the UK since the 2nd World War, and the decimation of the red squirrel by the dastardly, invading greys. Paul was a real lover of nature and I loved listening to him in his natural habitat.
Also, and probably a little bit selfishly, as Harry and Andrew are a couple of years older than my children, I regularly picked Paul's brains about parenting at those key development stages; toddler-wrangling, early school years, screen-time management. I respected Paul's opinion hugely because of the man he was – he very obviously loved his family dearly and every time, he seemed to have pragmatic, realistic but most importantly caring advice that I was more than happy to try to put into practice at home.
Alongside Sudha, parenting is clearly one of the many things Paul did well, when you witness the gentlemen that Harry and Andrew are well on their way to becoming. Paul was passionate about encouraging the boys to be as active as he was. This played out in 5k & 10k runs, cycling events, mini-triathlons and even an English Coast to Coast cycle with Harry in November 2017. This is just one of the ways in which Paul was an inspiration.
In work Paul was universally respected and liked. It is very common to get a bit of a grilling at work when responsible for proposing a change to any of the IT systems. Paul rarely got a grilling. He spoke with knowledge and authority within his field and held the trust of his colleagues across the board. I can’t put it any better than Clive, our CIO, did on the event of Paul’s passing. Clive said:
‘Paul was a special part of our team and a kind and gentle man. He always had a supportive word for all around him and will be missed greatly for his skill and judgment, as well as on a human level for his concern for others.’
That concern for others was clear inside and outside of work. Paul’s many charitable endeavours were always done quietly and under the radar, as you would expect. With no fanfare and seeking no thanks. Paul was a true altruist.
I have spoken recently with several colleagues at work who are all of the opinion that Paul was the type of man to make you want to do better and be better. That is the true definition of inspiration. And Paul was inspirational. And that’s the Paul I will remember.