Richard Paul Venables, co-owner and director of Venables Brothers timber merchants and joinery manufacturer of Cheswardine, Market Drayton, Shropshire has died aged 64 after a short but brave battle with cancer.
Richard, known to all as Paul, passed away peacefully at his family home in Cowbridge with his beloved family on Sunday 2nd February. Paul was widely recognised as a leading figure in European hardwoods and its uses in joinery and construction.
Paul 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, Shropshire, it was during these early years that Paul’s passion and expertise blossomed, before he went on to forge life-long friendships and admiration from his peers within the timber industry.
Paul went to boarding school at St David’s College in Wales and whilst his love for school was less than enthusiastic, it was on passing his driving test at 17 that wouldprove to be of more significance to Paul’s life and wellbeing than any O-level ever 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 his reluctance to joining 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 runthe timber-drying kilns. The boiler was not only capable of heating the kilns but also the factory and to generate electricity; an early, leading edge 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, 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, near Market Drayton, specialising in the supply of European Oak, trading with German and French sawmills and using all of theskills and knowledge acquired in the previous 30 years. For the last 20 years Paul and Chuck and their team have built up a solid reputation for supplying the finestEuropean hardwoods to customers across the UK.
Chuck Venables said;
“It is with great sadness I announce that my brother Paul has lost his battle with cancer. He passed peacefully away on Sunday afternoon at home in the company of his wife Lynn and family.
“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’s knowledge of oak and how best to process it won him many long-standing customers who traded with him for many years.
“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 hiscomposure 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 on Friday 14th February at 10.00am, followed by The Bear Hotel, Cowbridge. Donations in lieu of flowers to Velindre Cancer Centre and The RNLI would be gratefully accepted.