The Door No One Wants To Open
“The hardest thing for anyone to do is open that door and walk through it. I see people walk past the window time and time again, but they don’t want to come through the door. Sometimes they walk past 4 or 5 times before they enter.” It’s an incredibly perceptive observation and unsurprisingly it comes from Paul Kelwick. Paul is the Manager of G R Pinder Memorials in Scarborough. It’s more than a job to Paul – it’s a way of life and he uses his knowledge and years of experience to bring an especially personal touch to his clientele.
“I distinctly remember one gentleman…” Paul shares “…who walked past the window but just couldn’t come in, he even walked up to the door a couple of times, but it was just a step too far. Then one day when he came, I was in the workshop at the side of the showroom and I called out to him, asking if I could help?” He continued; “The chap burst into tears and stuttered out that he needed to arrange a memorial for his late wife. But it was all too much, and he rushed off, embarrassed that he had broken down. The next time he came I offered him a brochure and the option to visit him at home, which I thought would be easier for him and he readily agreed. It took 6 visits to his home to arrange a memorial. You see what I do is to help with the last tie that the person has with their loved one. It’s the conclusion and closure of their time on earth and that is just too much for some people to come to terms with, sometimes for a long time after the person has died. People need time to grieve to often the memorial is instrumental in helping that grief: it is a place to go where thoughts about the deceased can be indulged.”
As a young lad growing up in Scarborough, Paul loved to go fishing and any chance he had to go out on his Uncle Jim’s trawler he took it. At only 10 years old he was to be found hanging around his Uncle’s boat cleaning out the cabin for “half a crown” pocket money. When he was 15 and keen to leave school at Easter, his form tutor said if he had a job offer on the table and his employer confirmed this in writing then he was “free to leave”. Paul’s Uncle Jim did just that and Paul began work helping him on his trawler. For two years Paul worked with his Uncle, sometimes out at sea for 3 or more days at a time and then the engine on the boat developed a big problem. Paul’s Uncle advised him that if he could find another job, he should take it.
Paul – just turned 17 – had recently passed his driving test. Paul’s dad and Ray Pinder – a stonemason in Scarborough – used to frequent the same café in Scarborough and had become friends. Upon hearing Paul had passed his test and was looking for a job Ray told Pauls, dad, to ask him to get in touch – he was “looking for a young lad to join us”.
In those early days, Paul would go out fixing headstones, canvassing around Leeds and York – including Emerson’s now part of the J Rotherham group.
A, by then retired, stonemason from Pickering called Billy Dove continued to do some work for Pinders from his garden shed and Paul would be sent on a Monday to spend the day with him, helping him. It was Billy who taught Paul how to carve and letter stone. Before long Paul was tasked with both hand-carving and machine cutting the marble scants, not only letters but roses and other flowers. It was something Paul found incredibly satisfying and rewarding.
It is with a sense of pride that Paul can tell me the exact date he joined G R Pinder as their youngest member of staff – 16th March 1977 – some 43 years ago this year. There have been some major milestones during those 43 years. The first red-letter day came for Paul when his wife to be, Lillian, walked through the door to arrange a memorial for her late father. Lillian tells me: “Paul was so kind to my mother and me throughout the whole process, at what was a very distressing time. We became good friends and now here we are today, married 34 years this year.”
The next major milestone was when Ray Pinder retired and sold the business to
J Rotherham a family-run stonemason who although never changing the name over the door still own the business today. Recognising the personable character and inherent people skills, together with the stone masonry skills they had in Paul, the Rotherham family retained the status quo.
But what of the door that people don’t want to open? Has that become any easier? “I’m happy to go to them and that does help…since that first time, it’s become a service we offer, and people really appreciate that.” He concludes: “Some people like to come into the showroom, see and feel the stones but for those who find that all too much we have the solution.” Of his own future, he laughs and jokingly says: “Well I’m waiting for a long-promised bottle of Whisky or carriage clock for my long service but honestly? There’s nowhere I’d rather be…. except for maybe the odd fishing trip now and then. I now have my own boat for that though!”
Paul can be contacted at G R Pinder in Manor Road, Scarborough, YO12 7RT.
Tel: 01723 373 712.
© Sharon Malone – text may only be reproduced with permission of the author.