Sidford laundry boss “lived life to the full”

Tributes to Paul Hargreaves who ran Sidford’s Victoria Laundry, who died on Sunday

HE loved transatlantic yacht racing and socialising at the Blue Ball, Sidford, but what Paul Hargreaves loved most was to quietly help Sid Valley groups fulfil their dreams.

Third of three generations of Hargreaves to run the Victoria Laundry in Sidford, which closed three years ago, Mr Hargreaves died at his home, close to the old Victoria Steam Laundry site, on Sunday. He was 71.

Since the news, tributes have been paid by his family and members of local organisations that benefited from his philanthropy.

Marion Perry, secretary of Sid Vale Carnival Club, whose husband Barry was a childhood friend of Paul’s, said: “The club is very sad to hear of Paul’s death. He was our godfather right from the word go in 1983 when we started a carnival float.

“He was there, seeing it being built, and encouraged us right from the beginning.

“He was a wonderful man who worked in very silent ways and did a lot of good, not only for the Carnival Club but for many organisations.”

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The laundry sponsored their first generator and helped the club through financial difficulties during its early years.

John Govier, chairman of Sidmouth branch of the RNLI, was full of admiration for Mr Hargreaves, saying: “Paul had many facets, one of which was his sailing ability. He was a transatlantic sailor and well known in sailing circles.

“Part of his business, indeed, was cleaning sails [which he decided to do following a plea by his dentist]. He will be sadly missed by many in Sidmouth, not least for his conviviality.”

Born in Sidmouth Cottage Hospital in 1939 and educated at Mount Radford School, Exeter, Paul will be remembered by many Sidmouth sporting clubs for his generosity and sponsorship over the years, including Sidmouth Rugby Club.

Club chairman Derek Marchant said: “He was a wonderful guy for Sidmouth Rugby Club. If we wanted a project with money put up front, he wanted to do it without hesitation.”

He said Paul bought the club new wrought iron gates when the others rotted and added: “He will be sadly missed.”

He met his second wife Janet Hurson 29 years ago and between them they have five children, Clare, Belinda, who lives in Quebec, Bridget, Roger and Daniel, and six grandchildren.

It was his grandmother, who ran Hargreaves Stores in Temple Street, Sidmouth, who started the laundry in 1901 and it was later taken on by Paul’s parents, Edwin and Winifred.

Paul’s cousin, Mike Bennett, who was manager there, as his father Herbert before him, said: “Paul’s father died in around 1968 and left Paul 51 percent of the company and he ran it with his mother.

“My father, Herbert, worked there in 1946 and I said I would never work there, but in 1966/7 I did and was there until it closed its doors three years ago.”

A former stoker mechanic with the Royal Navy, serving on HMS Decoy, HMS Eagle and HMS Ark Royal, Paul was a recreational sailor and had two boats, one named Decoy after his Navy days and the other Profectus.

Daniel said: “He held, for a time, [with Peter Phillips] the world record for circumnavigating Ireland in an 80-foot catamaran.” They broke the three-day record held by Robin Knox-Johnson.

Two years before, in 1984 he raced with Peter, a policeman from Exeter, from Quebec to St Malo and three weeks later married Janet.

Janet, said of her husband: “He was a social person, who supported the whole valley. He never had a bad word to say about anyone and was a loyal friend.”

Daniel added: “He lived life to the full. What he did in his lifetime could fill three lifetimes.”

His funeral will take place at St Peter’s, Sidford, on Friday, September 3, at 12noon, followed by interment at Sidbury Cemetery. Donations to the RNLI are requested instead of flowers.

*Pay your tribute to Paul Hargreaves online.