Brother of beloved Market Drayton woodworking man pays tribute
A woodworking pioneer who led a business near Market Drayton with his brother has died.
Richard Paul Venables, co-owner and director of Venables Brothers timber merchants and joinery manufacturer of Cheswardine, died on February 2 after a short battle with cancer.
Richard, known to all as Paul, died peacefully aged 64 at his family home in Cowbridge with his family.
He grew up working during his school holidays in the fifth-generation family sawmill and timber yard at Henry Venables, Stafford, and spent a short time at Ransford’s sawmill in Bishops Castle.
He went to boarding school at St David’s College in Wales and, while his love for school was less than enthusiastic, it was passing his driving test at 17 that would prove to be of more significance to Paul’s life and wellbeing than any O-level would.
After declaring to his father Richard on leaving school that the last thing he wanted to do was work in the timber trade, Paul spent a year working on a pig farm in North America and living with his mother’s brother, Uncle Abe, and family which led to his life-long passion for cars.
Paul loved anything with an engine and owning, buying and selling cars would bring him lifelong enjoyment.
On his return home and with his reluctance to join the family firm, Paul went on to learn about kilning hardwoods and in the 1980s commissioned, installed and ran one of the first large woodfired biomass boiler plants in the UK to generate steam to run the timber-drying kilns.
The boiler was not only capable of heating the kilns but also the factory and generating electricity; an early, leading move toward sustainability.
In the mid-1990s, the family business was taken over by timber merchants Chantler’s and for a few years the company enjoyed working on major projects such as the restoration of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle following the catastrophic fire of 1992, and the supply of oak for the new Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and Portcullis House in Westminster, London.
In 1999 Paul, together with his younger brother Chuck, formed Venables Brothers Ltd, based in Chipnall, Cheswardine, specialising in the supply of European oak, trading with German and French sawmills and using all of the skills and knowledge acquired over the previous 30 years.
The company still trades successfully today.
Chuck Venables said: “It is with great sadness I announce that my brother Paul has lost his battle with cancer.
“He will be remembered as a truly memorable character in the hardwood timber trade with his love for dealing in hardwoods surpassed only by his love of family and cars.
"Everyone Paul dealt with in business learnt that Paul was very quick to speak his mind, but his bark was worse than his bite. Many of Paul’s business contacts became life-long friends and enjoyed the shared journey as we grew our business.
“Paul has left a legacy of a very strong company turning over in excess of £10m with a team of 30 employees.
“Paul faced up to the battle against cancer with the bullish determination and matter-of-factness that characterised his whole life and left all who witnessed it in awe of his composure and selflessness.
“Paul loved life; his beloved family, friends, cars, mowers, tractors, rugby, food, and St David’s, Pembrokeshire where he holidayed for over 50 years.
“We thank all of our friends and customers for their kind words and continued support at this sad time.”
Paul Venables leaves his wife, Lynn, two daughters Kelly and Pippa, and grandchildren Ruben and Tilly.
The funeral will be held at Cardiff and Glamorgan Memorial Park and Crematorium this Friday, February 14, at 10am, followed at The Bear Hotel, Cowbridge.
Donations in lieu of flowers to the Velindre Cancer Centre and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution will be gratefully received.