An Obituary and Photo
Paul Ratcliffe

Paul died on 20 April 2020 and because of the Covid-19 restrictions many people who would have attended his funeral service were unable to do so. We therefore share the tribute from the funeral service with you now:

Paul lived almost 96 years - that's a long time, a lot of living. And his three daughters Jane, Linda and Helen have given me a lot of material to work with  so I hope that these few words do justice to Paul the man, the husband, the brother, the dad, grandad and great-grandad.

Paul was born on 6 June 1924 in Shropshire - his dad was a toolmaker and mum a housewife. There were four children. Paul had two older sisters Gwennie and Rachel, and a younger brother Derrick. Both Gwennie and Rachel have passed away, but Derrick is still with us, living in Michigan in America.

Paul ran off to join the army at the start of World War 2 - he was only 15 and pretended that he was a year older so that they'd let him in. He was first with the Light Infantry before moving to the Royal Engineers and 4th Parachute Squadron. He served in many countries over the course of the war, was one of the few who survived Arnhem, and ended up after the war in Palestine  being mentioned in dispatches in 1949 for gallant and distinguished service. The best part of ten years spent in the army meant that he had a great store of stories and he never tired of sharing his adventures, remembering names and places as if it were only yesterday and often adding just a touch of humour to what were often quite distressing situations.

Paul met Edith whilst waiting for a connection at Doncaster Railway station and they were married on 20 June 1953 at St Mary's Church, Cottingham.

They bought a grocery shop together in Pateley Bridge in the Yorkshire Dales. Jane was born soon after, in 1954. Many a tale has been told about the delivery van which Paul took out in all kinds of weather conditions to get food and supplies to outlying farms. Although it did let them down on the day of Jane's christening and Paul and Edith always remembered running down the hill pushing Jane in her pram to get her to the church in time!

A while later Paul and Edith moved to Hull to be closer to Edith's parents and it was there that both Linda and Helen were born. They had another shop, this time called "Electricaids";  it sold a mixture of electrical goods and toys which Edith, Jane and Linda all helped in at various times.

It was during this time that Paul built an aviary and kept lots of canaries and finches, something his father had done before him and also took to growing tomatoes and prize chrysanthemums.

In July 1971 there was a complete change of direction for the family. They went for a fortnight's holiday to Somerset and ended up buying a bungalow and moving there a few weeks later! The house had been empty for years and Paul spent many hours restoring it, balancing his time between this and his new career as a groundsman and gardener.

The family really settled here, had many happy times, made many friends  both in the village and at the local Methodist Church in Watchet.

There were also lots of holidays, usually camping, to Norfolk, Cornwall, Wales, and of course Somerset. Paul was very protective of his girls and when they were old enough to sleep in a separate tent then he would sleep with a piece of string tied around his toe so that if anything was wrong in the night then they just had to pull it to wake him up!

Paul and Edith moved up to Cumbria in 2007 to be nearer to Ian and Helen and they loved being able to see more of them, and the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They also started to come to Arnside Methodist Church which is of course how I got to know them both.

Latterly, Edith developed dementia and eventually had to move to Westmorland Court. Paul remained devoted to her and visited her every day. She died in 2016. Not long afterwards Paul had to give up driving and wasn't able to get to church every week, but George and Doreen were regular visitors to keep him in touch with things.

He managed to stay independent and remain in his bungalow in Heversham with help from Helen and Ian  and lots of virtual support via telephone and Internet from the rest of the family.

Paul took great delight in his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren and loved playing chess, Connect 4, and draughts with them when they came to visit.

He was always busy with something or other - a jigsaw, watercolour painting, online chess, learning new things at the computer and reading. He'd read both Tolstoy and Chekov in the last twelve months. His last book to read was Treasure Island, managing to listen to the last few pages before going into hospital.

Paul always loved and took great pride in his own garden and also enjoyed getting photos from Jane and Linda with pictures of their gardens and giving them tips and advice. Every year he always grew far more tomatoes than we knew what to do with! Helen became an expert at making chutney.

Despite having left school at 14 he was remarkably intelligent and often knew the answers to really difficult questions on Mastermind and Eggheads - even when the contestants did not.

Paul was a thoughtful and caring person. He always made personalised birthday and Christmas cards for all his relatives and this is something many people have mentioned in their messages of condolence.

I'll remember him for his smile always welcoming and friendly.

So a good life, a long life, a life well-lived. We are thankful for all that Paul has been to us, and we pray that he will rest in peace.

Rev. David Stretton