A Leighton Buzzard businessman has been made a Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his services to carving, gilding and conservation.
Paul Ferguson MBE, 67, has received commissions for government buildings, London galleries, art collections and even the Royal family, some of his most celebrated works being for Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace.
Now, his years of hard work and graft have been given the recognition they deserve, as Paul tells the LBO the award was “out of the blue”.
He said: “I was overjoyed, really surprised and delighted. I was quite flabbergasted when I opened the envelope a couple of weeks ago!”
Originally born in London, Paul and his family settled in Leighton Buzzard when he was 15, and at 16 he began art school.
He saw a job advert for Paul Levi Studios, London, in 1973, but says his journey into carving and gilding was “quite a coincidence”.
Paul said: “I was stripping layers off frames revealing antique gold underneath – very laborious!
“One morning Paul came in and he said: ‘We’ve got a lot of carving to do but only two carvers - would you mind having a go?’ I did one job and he said, ‘well, you’re wasted doiing stripping!’”
Paul received further training and went on to open Paul Ferguson Workshop in 1978, relocating it from London to Vandyke Road in 2008.
Paul helped restore the Carlton House Trophies (gilded wooden door panels) following the 1992 fire at Windsor Castle and completed a detailed inventory of the Grinling Gibbons carvings at Hampton Court Palace (2013).
Paul said: “Princess Margaret visited my workshop in London and said I should sign my work! It’s the only panel of the (Carlton House) set signed by the carver!”
Paul, an accredited conservator, has a wife, Jessie, a son, Matthew and two daughters, Sarah and Leah.
He is Chair of the Board for the Development of National Standards for Woodcarving, and a member of the Institute of Conservation, as well as the Master Carvers Association.