A HUGELY successful businessman, who was born and bred in Milford Haven, is taking up a role in public office.

Gerald Osborne, known as Gerry to his friends and family, has taken a step back from his family firm to spend a year as the High Sheriff of County Durham.

The 73-year-old grew up in Murray Road in Milford Haven and attended Milford Haven Grammar School before moving away to set up his business empire.

Mr Osborne’s long and varied career has seen him hold top jobs for tobacco product manufacturer Rothmans International in Darlington, chocolate maker Cadbury in Birmingham, and for shoemaker Clarks in Somerset.

After settling down with his family in County Durham, Mr Osborne set about fulfilling his ambition to launch his own business designing and making showers, shower enclosures and bath screens.

He said: “It was a bit of a family joke that we always had lousy showers wherever we moved.”

The business started with just three of four people, and now boasts a workforce of 160.

“That’s my proudest achievement," he said. "We have people who have been made redundant, in some cases more than once, who have now been with us ten to 20 years."

“They’re an excellent bunch. Really hard-working and dedicated.”

Mr Osborne became the 290th person to hold the post of High Sheriff of County Durham when he was sworn in at Durham Crown Court at a ceremony on Monday, March 31.

During his year in office he plans to offer budding entrepreneurs his expert advice on how to succeed in business, as well as raise money for the County Durham Community Foundation, of which he is a director and trustee.