I first met Paul in the late 80’s. He was always quiet, pleasant and a good lad to be around, not one to show off or make a spectacle of himself. Due to work and family commitments he would only manage to get to 5 or 6 shoots a year but we always made a B Line for each other to talk about shooting stuff and his old H reg white Audi 80 that had done about 250k Miles!
I remember around 1990 Paul and me having a real tussle in the NEFTA winter league for the overall individual title.
Some of my favourite memories of Paul were at the overseas Worlds Events where we would lodge together, like in Norway 2012 where our house mates Gilly and Tool shared with us. Gilly was on a “budget” for the trip and would miss the odd meal but mysteriously the communal biscuit stash would reduce drastically over night, as he went on his midnight biscuit raid. Tool and I gave him some right jip (and still do) about it but Paul would just smile and laugh about it. That was Paul all over, not a bad word to say about anyone and if he didn’t get along with someone (which was very rare) he would simply keep out of their way.
Another legendary Worlds moment with Paul was in 2009 when we were in South Africa together. After the competition we went to Pilanesberg Safari Park, where we met a bull elephant called Steroid! He put the proper frighteners on our mini bus full of Brits by running straight at us from about 35 yards away to get to a bag of oranges of mine that he could smell. I’ll never forget that, Paul’s Dad still wears the leather hat that Paul bought whilst over there.
When Paul was diagnosed with his illness and all the way through to the end he was always up beat, we had the odd road trip with Dave Robinson and Mark Stenton to the Lake District and the National Railway Museum, where we had some quality time and some good laughs. Whilst on these jaunts I would look at him and think to myself “If I had what he’s got I would like to think that I would be able to carry on as normal as possible, never moaning or feeling sorry for himself, to be just glad to be out & about and living life to the full”. He was certainly a class act that will take some following.
I could go on for hours but as you can probably guess I miss him greatly as i’m sure all who met him do.
He wouldn’t appreciate us all getting tearful & I think the best thing we can all do to remember him by is once a year dust those springers off & have a fun day out to carry the legacy on of Paul “Ninja” James.