Paul Harris: “unflappable dignity, unfailing politeness, the determination to do things right”

As we waited at Dover for the P&O ferry that would take us to France to begin the 2015 Guild Euro Classic writes Andrew Noakes, organiser Paul Harris appeared with rally plates and information packs for all the participants. We all knew he hadn’t been well, and someone asked how he was. “I’ll survive the weekend,” he said, with a rye smile.

What a weekend it proved to be. Some stunning cars, a warm welcome wherever we went, magnificent Champagne scenery, and the odd goblet of the local product, all enjoyed in a convivial atmosphere.

And there, at every location we visited, were Paul and Ann in their white ur-quattro, making sure everything was running smoothly and everyone knew where they had to be. Ferry, road routes, hotel, food, parking spots. In Epernay, a formal procession of the cars through the town which Paul briefed the drivers about (above) with military precision. There were excursions and notes about places of interest along the route, even a quiz at the end – it was all organised faultlessly, and that was largely down to the immense effort Paul put into it. The ‘Classic’ was a huge success.

When Paul said he’d see out the weekend we all chuckled politely at the joke, but there was more truth in what he’d said than any of us wanted to admit. His battle with cancer had taken it’s toll, and the trip to France couldn’t have been easy. Just hours after we all got back, Paul was taken seriously ill and admitted to hospital.

He died yesterday.

Those of us who knew Paul as a friend or a colleague will remember his unflappable dignity and unfailing politeness, the determination to do things right, but also to have fun doing them. He did all of that right to the end.