Taylor Bloxham's Bruce Sharpless Dies
Monday, January 09, 2012
Leading Leicestershire printer Taylor Bloxham regrets to announce the death of Bruce Sharpless at the age of 87. He died peacefully on 18 December 2011. He is survived by his beloved wife, Jacqueline.
The story of Bruce’s life is incredible. He was adopted soon after he was born and was brought up in Leicester by Bill and Emily Cave, as Bruce Cave. An excellent sportsman, Bruce played rugby for England at Under 14 level against Scotland. He also captained his school’s (Mantle Road, Leicester) rugby XV and cricket XI. In his early adult life he was reconciled with his natural mother, Sylvia Sharpless and he chose to change his name to Cave Sharpless.
In 1938 Herbert Taylor and Harold Bloxham formed a tiny printing business, Taylor & Bloxham. Bruce joined them as an errand boy in that same year. After a short time he entered into a seven-year apprenticeship with the firm. This was interrupted by the outbreak of World War 2 and, just after his 18th birthday in 1942, Bruce joined the Royal Artillery. He served as a PT instructor but then went across to Normandy on D-Day + 6 and saw action as a signals operator. He fought all the way to Hamburg with his regiment. The end of the war saw him in Bielefeld. A lot of the army’s printing was produced at GHQ Printing Press in Bielefeld and Bruce was posted there to oversee the local German workforce. He was demobbed in 1947 and returned to Taylor & Bloxham.
The company grew over the next few years and Bruce became a part-time sales rep in 1954. He worked three days a week on the road and four days a week on the presses. Harold Bloxham made Bruce a director in 1957. Bruce was instrumental in Taylor & Bloxham breaking into the London print market. He supervised the expansion of the company and its move of premises. In 1969 Harold Bloxham retired and sold his shares to Bruce who became Managing Director. In 1970 Bruce took the far-sighted decision to convert the presses from letterpress to B1 litho. By the late 1970’s Bruce had formed a repro company, PDR and a B2 litho facility called C&R Printing Services. Along with Taylor Bloxham, as the name had now become, turnover had reached the magic £1 million.
This phenomenal growth continued through the 1980’s aided by the installation of two four-colour Heidelberg Speedmasters. This growth was consolidated and increased throughout the 1990’s and into the 21st century – and Bruce was still the driving force. At the turn of the century Taylor Bloxham moved into a purpose-built 48,000 square foot printing works in Beaumont Leys, Leicester.
Bruce’s achievements were recognised by a Lifetime Achievement Award from Printing World in 2006. He maintained an active presence within the business until he was 84 -70 years in print - when he handed the reigns over to his daughter April.
Taylor Bloxham in 2011 is a lasting memorial to Bruce Sharpless. It is now a £25 million business boasting 3 Heidelberg Speedmaster 102 B1 12-colour presses, a B1 6-colour press and additional B2 presses, digital equipment and all ancillary equipment. Most importantly the company employs over 200 people. The errand boy’s legacy is immense!
Group CEO, Chris Bowen comments, “Bruce Sharpless was an amazing man. His spirit will live on in the values he instilled and that we maintain within the Company.”
Bruce’s daughter, Group Chairman April Moss states, “My dad was a true family man and a gentleman. Not only was he a fantastic husband, father and grandfather, he was an inspiring father figure, role model and good friend to hundreds of people. My dad has left a wonderful legacy that will last forever.”
The funeral will take place at 12 noon on Tuesday 3 January 2012 at Barkby St. Mary’s Church, Main Street, Barkby, Leicestershire LE7 3QG. The service will continue in the East Chapel at Gilroes Crematorium, Groby Road, Leicester LE3 9QG at 1.30pm. Family flowers only. Donations in lieu to the Alzheimer’s Society, c/o Ginns & Gutteridge Funeral Directors, 51 Vaughan Way, Leicester, LE1 4NR.