THE founder of a company who overcame a near-death accident, has picked up a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Tile Association, which represents the entire UK tiling industry voted to give the award to Paul Kelly.

It is not only because he built up a highly successful local business, currently employing 65 people but for his extraordinary life story.

Paul started out in business 40 years ago when as an entrepreneur, he ran a small scale manufacturing business.

In 1990 he set up a manufacturing enterprise near his home in Whittle-le-Woods, manufacturing ready-mixed wall tile adhesive. By 2002, he was employing three people, and the business seems to be on a steady growth trajectory.

However, his life was about to take a dramatic turn, when he suffered an accident at work which came within a whisker of killing him. Paramedics said afterwards that he had technically died momentarily.

On that fateful day in February 2002, he fell into turning mixer-blender in his factory. After 22 hours of non-stop surgery at Wythenshawe Hospital, a team of 10 surgeons were able to reattach one severed hand as well as the fingers on the other apart from the thumb which was lost. Despite losing a leg, Paul was soon walking and back to work.

Today he says his health is tip-top, he is an active fundraiser for charity and he is looking forward to a long and healthy retirement starting later this year, having passed on the stewardship of the Tilemaster business to his son Mark.

In fact, despite everything, Paul and and Mark managed to keep Tilemaster on its own growth track, and last year the business was acquired by Kerkaroll, another family-owned business.

Paul said: “ I am happy to have won this for everyone who works in the business. I just feel very lucky to be able to see the continuing success of Tilemaster, and its growth as a significant local employer, despite the two mishaps which have occurred in my life, which nearly derailed everything!”

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