Paul Ridgway came from Wellington, Shropshire and joined Mercury on 21stSeptember 1961. He became a close friend of former chairman, David Parsons (4709). He loved “messing about in boats” and whilst at the school he had a dinghy which he sailed with great proficiency and enjoyed the summer months on the river. Along with David he became a school librarian and also joined in several camping expeditions – the two of them managed to reach Land’s End, leaving Hamble on a Friday afternoon and returning Sunday evening. Sailing, working in the library and weekend camps were an opportunity to escape some of the less pleasant functions and certainly made his life more tolerable and fun!
Paul had an interest in and a talent for engineering. When he left Mercury, in July 1965, instead of going to sea, he applied for and was awarded an apprenticeship with Rolls Royce Engineering in Shrewsbury, where he excelled and became highly qualified. Shortly after qualifying he was granted a year’s paid leave of absence to join Voluntary Services Overseas where he worked in a small local community in a remote part of India. This very much opened his eyes to other ways of life in foreign parts and, as was his nature, he was very humbled by the experience. When he returned home, he took on a variety of jobs, including working in support of young offenders, before returning to Rolls Royce for some years. Latterly he managed several large service stations over a period of time.
Whilst he never went to sea, his love of sailing remained with him for life. After leaving Mercury he always owned a boat and became highly competent utilising his skills to teach his son Oliver. Latterly Paul and his wife, Sharon, graduated to a 21’ yacht which, initially, he kept on Lake Windemere before moving to Southampton (bringing back many memories). This was later replaced by a larger boat. He was a member of the North Staffs Sailing Club for many years.
Paul died after a long illness on 30th March 2023.
David Parsons writes In the face of adversity, that was part of life at Mercury, lifetime friendships were made. Paul was one of those and I was both lucky and privileged that he remained one of my very closest friends for over sixty years. My condolences go to Sharon his wife, Oliver his son and other family members. He will be greatly missed by them and all of us who had the privilege of knowing him.