Did You Know… that the cake for Julie Walsh’s 50th Birthday came from Buckingham Palace
Julie grew up never expecting to hob nob with Royalty and her life to date is something of a Cinderella story.
Julie was adopted as a baby by a loving working class couple, who lived in a small Council House in Portsmouth. She attended State Schools (our equivalent of Public Schools) and after graduation trained to be a chef.
A failed early marriage left Julie with the daunting prospect of being a single mum, the sole supporter of her kids, a girl 2 and a boy 7. “I felt that going forward an education was essential, so I worked in a hotel and put myself through university.”
Her degree in psychology and empathetic personality earned her a government job directing young people towards suitable employment.
Enter Prince Charming – Paul Walsh, one of the UK’s most successful business men.
As CEO of Diageo, Paul was credited with transforming a mediocre consumer goods company
into a streamlined premium drinks business.
Julie and Paul met in a pub and were immediately attracted to each other. Very quickly Julie learned that life with Paul would be dominated by his work.
Business related travel took them all over the world. (Before retiring from Diageo Paul estimated he had clocked well over 5 million air miles.) And there was also lots of requisite entertaining both in London, where they have an attractive apartment and at their 20 acre farm in the picturesque village of Billinghurst. “The first ten years we were together we seldom dined alone.”
Note: A new house at Ocean Reef has provided some leisure time for Julie and Paul Walsh, who became Social Members in 2007 and Equity Members, six years ago.
Early in their relationship Paul introduced Julie to his two passions – fishing and hunting. Julie became expert at both. She believes it is possible to support conservation and still be an enthusiastic hunter. For her birthday she requested experiences. “Who needs another Chanel handbag.” Top of the list was another chance to hunt in South Africa. “I always go for only one species. I shoot that and nothing else. This year I would like to get my buffalo.”
Another of Julie’s birthday wishes is for a party this summer with all her favorites – Favorite 80’s music. Favorite food: Indian curry, fois gras, caviar, peanut butter ice cream. Favorite candy: Revels.
Favorite people: “include, of course, all my friends here at Ocean Reef and Sophie, Countess of Wessex.”
Julie met Sophie in 2013 when she was appointed to the Board of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a program founded by Prince Philip (Queen Elizabeth’s husband) to encourage boys and girls to earn a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award by devoting a specified amount of time to a selection of activities (e.g. volunteering in the community or improving in a fitness activity or skill). In recent years, Phillip has delegated responsibility for DofE to his son Prince Edward along with Countess Sophie, Edward’s wife.
Julie was a good pick for the Board. She has a degree in psychology and experience working with young people. She is also gifted with impressive organizational and management skills. “Lots of people have ideas,” she says, “but I get it done!”
Julie Walsh and Sophie Countess of Wessex worked well together, particularly on the 50th anniversary of the DofE organization. The two women are about the same age and for both of them marriage has brought expanded horizons, responsibilities, and unimagined pleasures.
Julie and Sophie have become friends. And that’s the reason for a birthday cake straight from Buckingham Palace that spells out in chocolate icing Happy Birthday Julie.