Face to face with Paul East
In her latest Face to Face interview, KAREN BETHELL talks to multi-talented North Walsham man Paul East, who not only leads a team of 10 as a senior probation officer, but also co-owns a highly successful restaurant, is a plumber who recently appeared on the BBC home improvement show DIY SOS and is the brains behind the town's charity hippo hunt .
In her latest Face to Face interview, KAREN BETHELL talks to multi-talented North Walsham man Paul East, who not only leads a team of 10 as a senior probation officer, but also co-owns a highly successful restaurant, is a plumber who recently appeared on the BBC home improvement show DIY SOS and is the brains behind the town's charity hippo hunt . . .
After leaving Paston College, Paul, who moved to North Walsham from Kent at the age of 13, joined his father's plumbing firm before setting up on his own.
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He quickly built up a successful business and, in 1995, married Lynda, with whom he ran North Walsham youth club for 7 years.
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Following a stint overseeing offenders carrying out community service orders 10 years ago, he trained as a probation officer and, after 2 years working on drug rehabilitation programmes, was promoted to senior probation officer based at Great Yarmouth.
Since 2007, Paul has worked with high risk offenders ranging from domestic abusers to sex offenders, and, as well as delivering rehabilitation programmes, his team offer help with education, employment and housing.
Eighteen months ago, Paul and his business partner Neil Dyke, who is a senior print manager at Harry Potter printers Clays of Bungay, decided to branch out into the world of fine dining and opened Divine bar and restaurant in a former carpet shop at St Nicholas Court, North Walsham.
The restaurant has since gained a first class reputation, with endorsements from celebrity diners ranging from rock stars to Paul's friend and former plumbing client Trisha Goddard.
Since 2007, dad of two Paul has been chairman of governors at North Walsham Infants School.
And when the school received a glowing Ofsted report, he came up with the idea of a hippo hunt based on Norwich's Go Elephants! project as a way of highlighting its achievements, promoting North Walsham, and raising cash for dozens of good causes.
With the help of head teacher Clare Fletcher and deputy chair of governors Tanya Adams, and sponsorship from dozens of local businesses and individuals, Paul arranged for a horde of nearly 50 papier mache hippos to be sold to local groups ranging from schools to community groups.
They were then decorated and after spending a week on display around the town, the colourful creatures will be auctioned off on Sunday (May 31), with 75 per cent of proceeds going to the owners and the remainder donated to wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation.
Lots up for grabs include a hippo signed by the Norwich City football team and another autographed by DIY SOS host Nick Knowles, who has promised to put in a bid.
North Walsham Hippo Hunt grand finale in on Sunday from 9.30am. The hippos will be on display during an afternoon barbecue outside Divine, before being auctioned off at a grand finale dinner at Divine. Tickets, priced �25 including a �5 donation to North Walsham Infants School, are available by phoning 01692 405590.
What is the best thing about your job?
The team I work with and the success we are currently having in rehabilitating offenders. It is certainly not the soft option people often think it is, as offenders can be back in prison in a minute if they put a foot wrong, but what we aim to give people the skills they need not to re-offend and the motivation to contribute to society in a positive way.
And the worst?
It sounds corny, but I can't think of anything; I enjoy it so much that I can't wait to get to work.
Where do you go to unwind?
To watch Norwich City play.
What is your favourite Norfolk building?
I have to say Norwich Cathedral because the history there is just unreal - and because the new Norfolk probation offices overlook it.
What is the one thing you would change about north Norfolk?
I'd probably like to have better public transport so that people could see the diversity we have here. I think it is amazing that you can see seals at Blakeney and then, just 30 miles down the coast, you can frighten the life out of yourself on a roller coaster at Great Yarmouth.
What makes you angry?
People's misconceptions about North Walsham. It is a good place with lots of history and I don't think we promote that enough. Hopefully, the hippos will give people an opportunity to see the town for what it is, rather than for what they think it is. I hope they not only highlight the positives of the town and the achievements of the school, but also raise lots of cash for some very good causes.
Whom do you most admire?
I am a Norwich City season ticket holder, but I'm also an Arsenal supporter so I'll say Tony Adams. I think you have to admire his honesty about his drinking and drug abuse - he showed how low you can go and how much motivation you need to overcome the dreaded disease of addiction.
What is your greatest achievement?
Hopefully, the hippos!
And your proudest moment?
Aside from family moments, opening Divine was a very proud day.
Favourite book, film and TV programme?
Book: The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom, film: Mona Lisa and TV programme: QI.
How would you like to be remembered?
Positive, smiley face, gave it my all.