<>Paul was a resident of Clare, and was the son of a Suffolk farmer in Bacton. With his elder brother inheriting the farm, Paul chose an alternative career in agriculture as a surveyor and auctioneer. He became a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a Fellow of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers.
As was made clear at a packed Memorial Service in Saffron Walden on March 15th, he was above all a family man. With seven children and fifteen grandchildren the loves of his life were Stella and the family. Their generosity knew no bounds: weddings, dinner parties, luncheon parties, week-ends on their narrow boat “Gentle Jane” are remembered with particular affection, as are the laughter, song, anecdotes, wit and humour which were their backcloth.
Paul was Trustee of several charitable trusts. He was Chairman for many years of MacMillan Cancer Care Committee, and Churchwarden of St Mary’s, Saffron Walden for some ten years, the very church in which the memorial service was held and which brought along some 800 to share memories of a colourful figure.
Paul attended Brandeston and the College where he represented the school at hockey, played rugby and enjoyed shooting. On leaving he joined Auctioneers and Estate Agents, RC Knight and Sons, Stowmarket, where he was introduced to furniture salerooms, livestock markets and all the disciplines in which he would later excel. He helped to establish the Saffron Walden Antiques Fair, an annual event in the town. He also inspired the Bygone sales, held on occasional Saturdays in the cattle market, at which all kinds of equipment and machinery, particularly steam engines, came under the hammer. He became a Chartered Surveyor and in 1960, joined Cheffins, then operating from a single office and the cattle market in Saffron Walden. His career prospered, as described by the current chairman of Cheffins:
“Paul was the architect of the modern firm of Cheffins, having led the diversification of the firm when the cattle market side of the business declined in the 1970s. He set up our Vintage Sales in 1975 and our Fine Art department in 1982, both of which now have national prominence. He oversaw the rapid growth and diversification of the firm which now has some 120 directors and staff, six offices across the region and leading residential, commercial and rural departments, in addition to the Vintage and Fine Art activities, and the world’s largest monthly machinery sales, in Sutton, Ely.”
Paul died on 15th December, aged 72. Although he had retired from Cheffins in 2004, he continued as a consultant and was wielding his auctioneer’s gavel at the Cheffins monthly Machinery Sales just five days before he died. He had been a mentor to many aspiring auctioneers, including two of his own children. He was with Cheffins for 50 years having served as chairman from 1981 to 1996.
The memorial eulogy concluded with the words of Robbie Burns: “If there’s another world, he lives in bliss. If there is none, he made the best of this.”
As a special tribute, a Burrell steam engine eventually made it up to the church to give the final salute to Paul, the “master of the gavel.”