Paul Hibberd – an Obituary

Paul Hibberd, our chairman, sadly passed away at the beginning of this year.

Below please find his obituary prepared by his wife Gill:

Paul was born on 19th May 1945 in Portsmouth, where he grew up as an only child. At school he was very intelligent and his talents were recognized quite early on when he was used to help tutor other children and get them through their eleven-plus!  He went on to grammar school and then to Oxford, where he acquired an MA in history.  Changing tack somewhat he then went on to obtain an MSc in economics and statistics at Keele University.

Two interests dominated his childhood, one was cricket and the other was steam trains – which he went to see and travelled on at every possible opportunity.

He did briefly play cricket for his college at Oxford and continued to enjoy cricket, particularly test matches, for the rest of his life. However, steam and all its ramifications was his primary focus.

Curiosity was a dominant feature of Paul. So was fearlessness.  He travelled extensively.  At university he won a scholarship which sent him on a lecture tour in the States.  At a time when it was very difficult, he travelled in eastern Europe, on one occasion talking himself into Bulgaria when he did not have the required visa.  In 1976, immediately after our marriage, we went to live and work in Vanuatu in the south west Pacific (then called New Hebrides).  On the way we visited a lot of exotic locations as we did on the way home.  When we had finished having our family, travels began again both in eastern Europe and more widely.  We visited India, South Africa and Cuba.  We also had a flat in Spain which he had bought before he married me.

Paul had always thought that his wife would be somebody who he met on his travels. This proved to be true as he met me in France in 1974 though I wasn’t the foreigner he expected.  We married in 1976.  Paul disliked intensely being an only child so one thing he wanted in a wife was a willingness to have “lots of children”.  We had 6 so I think his ambitions in this direction were met.  Paul was a very gentle and kind father, qualities which he also exhibited with others who knew him well and many people have mentioned his gentleness and kindness in the letters which I have received.

Paul’s curiosity extended to engineering, particularly in the world of steam. He loved anything which explored the possibilities of steam power in modern times, feeling that there was much more which could be achieved.  He was full of ideas but he certainly wasn’t going to be the one up to his elbows in grease.  His last venture into the practical resulted in his woodwork joint falling to pieces in the last second of his carpentry exam.

His first venture in actively supporting preservation activities came in his support for and assistance with pushing forward the building of a replica George V steam locomotive. Neither he nor Bruce, with whom he began this project, will see it through to the end, but I am sure that others will continue the good work that they started.

Paul eventually qualified as a Trusts and Estates Lawyer, a job which he continued part time until he was forced to stop. His knowledge of law, especially relating to charities, meant that he was much in demand and one of the biggest tasks which we have had to do is sorting out all the paperwork and making sure it all goes to the  appropriate people.

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