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Summer 2016

Richard Sharpe Windows and a Wheel of Fortune


You may have seen Richard’s back more often than his front and very likely, up a ladder. For 14 years he has operated a successful window cleaning business with customers in Barrow and Sileby, his home village. But he comes from a background of all sorts. He joined the army at 17, largely to find out what he wanted to do with his life. He signed up for a REME unit, hoping to learn a trade as a mechanic, but it quickly became apparent that he had no aptitude and was no more familiar with a screwdriver when he left, than when he joined.

There followed numerous jobs in engineering factories, enlivened by stints as a croupier in Leicester. His life changed when he agreed to help some mates out: they needed an extra pair of hands in their window cleaning business. To his amazement, he loved it. He liked being outdoors and he liked being up tall ladders, enjoying new views and the wind in his hair. Quite soon he was able to buy the business and become the sole owner.

Richard has recently forsaken the ladders in favour of greater safety and comfort. He now operates what is called a “water-fed pole system”. His equipment sprays ultra clean water at high pressure onto the upper windows. Because all the salts and impurities have been extracted from the water by a process called reverse osmosis, the window glass dries completely clean, without leaving smears, hazes or streaks. He also feels it is unfair to the customer if he attempts to clean a window when it is raining because rain water does still contain impurities and so will dry to leave a residue. So the added benefit is that he isn’t out in the pouring rain.

Of course I asked him if he had any funny anecdotes: “What the window cleaner saw”. Sadly he could only tell me that on the one occasion when he came across an elderly man who was asleep in an upstairs bedroom stark naked. Richard’s instinct was to disappear so fast that he very nearly fell off the ladder! On the bright side, he met and married his wife as he was her window cleaner.

Not content with one business, Richard is now also co-owner of Royal Flush Casino Hire with business partner Nilesh Pancholi. His customers hire Royal Flush for an evening of fun, whether it may be a corporate hospitality evening, a wedding, a prom night or a charity fund-raising event. Whatever the event, this is not real gambling. The customer pays, say, £425 for the standard hire package of one roulette table, one blackjack table and two croupiers and lots of gaming chips, or a more expensive option that may also include a craps table and a wheel of fortune. After that, the guests play with “Monopoly” money. If it is a fund-raising evening then the organisers will charge the guests to participate with, say, £2,000’s worth of ‘fun’ money which they can exchange for a stack of gaming chips and there may be an option to buy more from the fundraiser. If there are prizes, then you are probably talking about a bottle of plonk at the end of the evening, not the huge real cash winnings of real casinos. You might think of it as Monopoly for adults and indeed, children can participate (as long as they are tall enough to reach the table!). Richard obviously loves this side of his work. He says he has flair as a fun croupier and fortunately for him, he has never been tempted down the “serious” side of gambling. So all in all you might say that Richard has fallen on his feet!

Judith Rodgers