Having been born at an early age I blinked twice and found myself as an Area Manager for a Supermarket company as a proper job, and as a hobby DJ’ing at TOTS Southend from 1977 to 1983 with Barry Elson on a Tuesday for the Jazz Funk session, and as back up DJ on a Saturday with Dick De Vigne.
Dukes Chelmsford opened in April 1983 and I was the General Manager there till 1990 and again when it changed to Dukes Experience, and I finally left there in 1997 – so many mad and happy memories with great colleagues and customers – what a wonderful way to spend those years of my life! In 1993 I was awarded National Nightclub Manager of the Year by the British Entertainment and Discotheque Association – lucky boy! In 1994 I was a member of the Arctic Challenge 94 team and was the 346th person in history to reach the geographic North Pole and helped raise £100,000 for the NSPCC in the process – what a trip that was!!
I then worked for Luminar Leisure till 2010. Luminar were a corporate company with over 350 late night licensed businesses around the UK, and I ended up as Area Operations Manager responsible for twenty odd nightclubs in the South East of England along with two restaurants, a Chicago Rock Café and nightclub on Jersey. You may have heard of a few of these venues – Liquid and Envy, Romford - Liquid, Envy, Jaks and New York New York at ‘Bas Vegas’ Basildon - The Hippodrome, Leicester Square, London – Air and Breathe, Dartford - The Hippodrome Colchester – Batchwood Hall, St Albans – Liquid and Envy, Maidstone etc. etc.
At the ripe old age of 58 I decided that the magic of the last 27 years had somewhat faded, so I said goodbye to mirror balls and mannequins and bought the good old Green Man public house and restaurant at Herongate, near Brentwood. Three fantastic years later with trade having doubled from when we started there we decided that seven days a week and no time for the family was taking its toll and we sold the business within three days of putting it on the market!! Should have gone down that route thirty years before! We had a fantastic beer garden and BBQ area that were solid during the summer months – had beer festivals that brought the area to a standstill and met some fantastic people who will be friends for life.
I am now the Head of Purchasing for Directa UK Ltd who are an industrial consumable supplier providing essentials for industry all over the world – the office is ten minutes from home, I don’t work nights or weekends anymore and we actually close down for Christmas – it took me two years to adjust to working behind a desk for the first time in my life!!
Married to the lovely Jackie for forty years - three wonderful children, Natasha, Stacey and Lewis and we now have three grandchildren – blimey, how old do I feel now!!
I have been a member of the Essex Harley Chapter for 25 years and still tour the UK and Europe on the bike – and enjoy every mile!
Being involved with the Dukes Reunion has been a great reminder of great times, and we are all looking forward to this night of pure nostalgia on the 25th November – look forward to seeing you there. Paul Ryan xx