A KNAPHILL man has put a smile on people’s faces during the coronavirus outbreak by becoming a model citizen.

Paul Staps, who lives on the border of Bisley Common and Knaphill, has turned his hand to making clay figures which have grabbed the attention of passers-by.

“I had a bit of clay kicking about so I decided to do a display,” Paul said. “I just wanted them to be amusing more than anything professional.”

Paul hung his handiwork on two trees and before long walkers were pausing in their daily exercise to admire his efforts.

“My wife, Angela, and I thought it would be a bit of fun for our grandchildren,” Paul said. “We live on a track which a lot of people use, and we can see them stopping to take photographs.

“It’s great to see others enjoying them, and you can see children climbing up on their parents’ shoulders to get a better look.

“I’m pleased they make people smile, especially because it’s the first time I’ve done anything like it. I only did it for a bit of a laugh and it’s all rather surprised me.

“The displays took me about five days overall to complete, three for the NHS house then two for each character, although I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. In a year’s time maybe they’ll look a bit more like the finished article.”

Paul’s interest in art is also evident in his love of painting.

“I’ve no training or anything, it’s just inherent in me,” he said.  “The paintings keep piling up, I’ve got about 60 around the place. I haven’t sold any, although a friend of mine has put some up on the internet for me.

“Funnily enough, I have had some interest in the models. When we were out hanging up the latest display, two monkeys on a rope, a lady asked if I sold them!”

Paul, 67 and in semi-retirement, has had a varied career.

“I joined the Coldstream Guards at Pirbright and among other things was involved in Trooping the Colour.

“When I left the army I ran a few pubs on the South Coast before taking over The Bleak House [now the Sands at Bleak House] in Woking. I was there for 13 years before I left to run my Smart Repair business, working around motor vehicles. I wished I’d done that years ago, actually.

“Now I just do a bit of maintenance a couple of days a week at Lily Pond Farm in Longcross.”

Despite the success of his feelgood project, Paul has decided to take stock.

“Now that I’ve finished the monkeys I’ll probably have to stop for a while. The place is starting to look like Legoland.”