Hawick funeral firm boss not planning to swap hearses for horses

Hawick Jockey Paul Robson, in the red cap, made a comeback after many years and came second in the seventh race at Kelso on Headscarf Lil.
Hawick Jockey Paul Robson, in the red cap, made a comeback after many years and came second in the seventh race at Kelso on Headscarf Lil.

A Hawick funeral director insists he has no intention of trading hearses for horses despite returning to his original career as a jockey at the end of last month.

Paul Robson rode 89 winners over jumps before having to call it a day due to serious injury in 2005.

However, after 14 years away from the sport, he was back in the saddle at Kelso Racecourse for its last race of the season, riding the Nicky Richards-trained Headscarf Lil into a respectable second place.

Paul, 35, is keen to stress that although he is resuming his racing career, his priority will always be running Robson’s Funeral Directors in Garfield Street, the business he established with his family after his retirement from the sport he loves, however.

He said: “My family and myself own Robson’s Funeral Directors in Hawick, and we’ll always run that and continue to serve the Hawick community and the surrounding areas.

“Race-riding is something I’m going to pursue. I’m very serious about it, and I always have been.

“Funeral directing always takes precedence but I will race-ride as a career. I’ll do both.”

Paul said it gave him a real buzz to be back in the saddle after so long away, adding: “It felt like I had never been away from the sport. It was lovely.

“I was excited beforehand about race-riding again and being in public, excited about seeing the boys in the weighing room, a lot of friends that I had not seen in a long time, and I was really excited to compete again because that’s what I live for.

“It made it particularly special that my return was at Kelso, my home track. It was a very special day.”

Paul retired after undergoing five shoulder operations and three reconstructive surgeries.

He said: “It took the best part of 18 months to get the arms working again and then it took a very long time to get to the point where I could rely on them, and during that time I started up the funeral directors’ business, and I was able to dedicate myself to that.

“It took a long time to build, as any business does, and in that environment you have got to be hands on. You are dealing with grief and it’s a delicate thing, and I had to make sure that all my efforts went towards making sure that was done properly.

“Now we have great staff and that has enabled me to go back and pursue racing again, which is lovely, and because we have the trust of the Hawick public and great staff I am able to do that.”

One of the best things about his return to the track is that his son Flynn, seven, can watch him race, he says, explaining: “He loves horses and he’s very excited, bless him, that I am back racing.

“He never got to see me the first time around. Not a lot of people get a second chance to come back, and I’m very fortunate to be able to do that.”

Paul’s return to the track has coincided with unfounded rumours surfacing that his business – set up with the support of his mum and dad, Fay and Adam Robson, in September 2009 – is facing closure, but he says he believes that the two things are unconnected.

Refuting the rumours, he said: “Any small town has a rumour mill, but anything to do with our business, tender as it is, can be quite worrying and quite detrimental to families in the town and to our staff, and we have a fantastic core staff. Obviously it’s a load of rubbish.”