March 11 2014 Latest news:
By Stephen Pullinger, Broads Correspondent
Friday, October 28, 2011
He is the first to admit his workshop and home is on a Broads backwater and jokingly instructs visitors trying to find him: go to the end of the world and fall off.
So wood craftsman Paul Williams was more than surprised to receive a phone call out of the blue inviting what he modestly calls his “one-man band” to take part in an international celebration alongside such elite brands as Fabergé and Louis Vuitton.
The prestigious campaign next year is being organised by a firm founded by Dragons’ Den star James Caan to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz Club and 125 years of Mercedes-Benz.
Mr Williams, 45, of Water Lane, Neatishead, near Wroxham, said: “Initially, I thought it might be a scam, but when I rang back and confirmed it I was elated.”
Fifty companies have been invited to join a series of events to mark the anniversary of the elite owners’ club, one of the highlights being a live fashion show at Mercedes-Benz World in Weybridge, Surrey, which will see racing drivers taking guests around Brooklands track. There will also be a diamond jubilee publication.
Mr Williams said all the companies taking part had been personally chosen by directors of the club, and he believes one of his wood-carved fountain pens or paperweights must have been received as a gift and admired by one of them.
He said: “I will be making a new range of top-end fountain pens for the occasion, using either burr oak or burr elm with a high-quality mechanism and German-made gold nib. Elm would reflect one of the woods used in the original Mercedes dashboard.”
The chance to promote his small enterprise, Woods World Wide, to a global audience comes only 12 years after it was launched out of adversity.
Mr Williams, who trained as a boatbuilder in Oulton Broad and worked on the Broads for Herbert Woods and Colin Facey before launching his own firm, recalled how a sailing accident forced his career change.
He said: “Intent on avoiding a collision on Black Horse Broad at Horning I smashed my elbow on the tiller and suffered a lot of nerve damage. It caused what is known as complex regional pain syndrome and I was left unable to do heavy lifting or raise my arms above my head.”
Wood-turning had been his hobby and he first turned to it as remedial therapy before deciding to carve out a new career. Initially selling his products, which include bowls and natural chopping boards, at local events, he finally plucked up the courage to market them at major national events such as the Country Living Fairs in Islington.
“It was incredibly successful and nine years later I am still exhibiting there twice a year,” he said.
Mr Williams, who will also be exhibiting at The Ideal Home Christmas Show in Earls Court and, closer to home, at Dragon Hall in Norwich in December, said: “There is a resurgence in interest in handmade crafts, but customers like to see the artist who made the product.”
He uses sustainable timber whenever possible and uses local timber merchants, Richardson’s in North Walsham and North Heigham Saw mill.