Charles Tunbridge's Tribute to Paddy Walsh 1942 - 2011

Published: 17th October 2011

We are very grateful to Charles Tunbridge for writing the following tribute to Paddy. Charles knew and worked with Paddy for a number of years.

Paddy was born on the west coast of Ireland and spent his formative years in the small town of Foxford, Co. Mayo, where his father was the local police sergeant. He grew up in a family with five sisters (and one brother), thereby acquiring his knowledge of and consequent interest in the female sex.

In Foxford there is a woollen mill which in those days was run by the nuns and thus was Paddy introduced to and captivated by the delights of woven cloth; the influence of the nuns was to come a lot later! It was a logical step therefore, on leaving school, to move to Scotland where he attended the Textile College in Galashiels, before moving to Huddersfield where he completed his studies with some distinction.

On graduating and marrying in 1968, he started work initially at Hanleys in Nenagh, co. Tipperary, and moved back to Huddersfield in 1971 as a designer/ salesman at Shaw Brothers, where he stayed for a while before moving to Whitley Willows to work on the Samuel Tweed brand. There he developed the legendary ladies wear mohair business and was able to utilise his huge talent, particularly as a colourist, with great success.

However, he became dissatisfied with this way of life and had a yen for pushing his personal boundaries, so started as an independent design/sales agent in the early eighties. He was able to call on an extensive network of agents, particularly overseas (by this time the home market was in steep decline), and exploit his vast network of contacts. Paddy was a superb net-worker, both for business as well as social purposes!

Later he joined Peter Macarthur in Hamilton, Scotland, before coming back to Huddersfield to work at Sydney Shaws in Kirkburton in the early nineties. We had worked together during the agency period (Paddy was instrumental in our move from near total reliance on the home market to one where over 80% of production went abroad including the important steps of exhibiting at the major Fairs in Europe and subsequently overseas). He also guided our development of Marling and Evans, which had been acquired in 1990, and finally, the purchase of the Samuel Tweed brand, when, once again, he was able to involve himself in the subtle delights of mohair, giving friendly advice to other members of the team, whether senior designer or short term college student intern. The wheel had come full circle.....and as a final accolade “Mr Mohair” was invited by Premiere Vision to sit on their prestigious Advisory Panel on Design and Colour, attending meetings twice a year in Lyons.

Ten years ago, Paddy suffered a heart attack and not long afterwards lost his wife, Jill, to lung cancer; he was never quite the same again. He leaves two daughters, Rachel and Tara.

Finally, my favourite Paddy story......

In the mid eighties we were exhibiting in Frankfurt. I had finished my discussions with a customer and could tell that Paddy was struggling putting the final touches to an order with a lovely, up-market Parisian couturier, Anne-Marie Beretta. So in my best A-level French I asked if I could help. The job was done and she then told me that she could not speak English, had known Paddy for many years, they had done good business together, she had entertained Paddy to dinner, with her husband and daughter, at her apartment and during that time he had never uttered one single word of French......”mais charmant, toujours charmant” !!