‘I’ll always remember his infectious laugh and wicked sense of humour’
“We are sad to say ‘farewell’ to a community-minded employer, a stalwart of local business, and simply my friend” says Jon Dart.
Philip was born in 1958, growing up in Sturminster Newton where he attended primary school before moving on to Blandford upper school. Enjoying a brief spell as a Tesco management trainee, Philip joined the family
business in 1979, which was then a successful agricultural steel fabrication and hardware business. He soon set to work steering this well- established business in a new direction, turning it into a thriving country department store before taking over directorship from his father Eddie in the early 90s.
I first met Philip when I was working at the original Blackmore Vale Magazine. He would turn up at the office
with visuals for adverts that he’d cut and pasted together (usually to a completely different shape than the
advert he’d booked). Luckily, we seemed to be on the same wavelength, and I was able to decipher his ideas and turn them into what he was after.
As I got to know him better, we’d spend more time chatting and partaking in some light-hearted banter, which was the first time I experienced his infectious laugh. It was during these chats that he would always
enquire about ‘how the family were doing?’, a phrase that will forever remind me of Philip. At the time I was new to parenting and he took great delight in my lack of sleep, stories of leaking nappies and basic ineptitude at being a parent.
And it was clear that family played such an important role in Philip’s life. Proud of his father and grandfather’s lineage in the family business; besotted with Wendy, his wife and childhood sweetheart;
his sister Linda and his two sons Johnathan and Graham and their families. And also his extended family, which is what he called the employees that worked with him. He surrounded himself with everything that made him happy.
‘He didn’t make a fuss’
So how did I end up becoming part of Philip’s extended family? I very nearly didn’t. He’d sent me an email, and right at the bottom he’d made a passing comment that they were looking for someone to do their marketing, which I intially missed. But that was the way with Philip. He wasn’t showy, he didn’t make a fuss,
he just went about running his business in his own unique style.
I can still remember my first day – the London 2012 Summer Olympics had just come to a close, the sun was
shining and Philip was there waiting to greet me in the car park. The pride he had in showing me around and
introducing me to everyone confirmed I’d made the right choice.
Although a shrewd and successful businessman, full of ideas and visions to better the business, Philip always had time to talk and would bend over backwards to help you. His infectious laugh and wicked sense of humour could diffuse even the tensest of situations (it could also get him into trouble on occasions). That laugh never failed to put a smile on your face, but for all of his joviality, Philip was also a much-respected pillar of the local community, providing employment to a rural area, initiating and contributing to local events and supporting local charities with vigour and passion.
Another fond memory was seeing Philip bestowed with an Honorary Achievement Award in 2019 for his hard
work and dedication to the housewares sector and for taking his family business into its 100th year.
It was an honour to have known Philip as a friend, and to have worked for him. I shall miss him immensely, as I suspect will anyone who has had the good fortune to have known him.
by Jon Dart