Mr Percy Artherton

MR Charles Percy Artherton, from Strangford, who died recently after a short illness, made a major contribution to the cultural life of east Down and beyond over many years. He was 87.

Some of us are lucky to excel in one area of life, but Percy was known for both his artistic work through his signwriting and painting skills and for his great tenor voice which enhanced stages, weddings and social events over 60 years. 

Percy started work at a young age, as was typical in the 1940s, when he began an apprenticeship with Chambers master painters in Downpatrick.

It wasn’t long before Percy’s ability went well beyond house painting and he was gracing shop fronts with stylish hand-painted signs of many designs and painting highly specialised paint effects, including gold leafing in the grand houses of the area. 

Percy worked with his uncle, Alfie Oakes, for many years before going out on his own in the 1970s after Alfie died.

He continued his painting business and branched out to work in the fishing ports of Portavogie and Kilkeel where he grained wheelhouses of the fishing fleet, wrote the names on the hulls  and adorned many lifebelts with his intricate art work.

Alongside his day job Percy was for many years a stalwart of St Patrick’s Choral Society where he not only played many lead parts but painted spectacular scenery for operas and musicals which helped lift the shows to a more professional level.

Whether it was an Austrian scene for the ‘Bohemian Girl’ or an Italian scene for the ‘Gondoliers,’ Percy was up to the job, alongside, of course, learning his part in the productions. 

Until recently Percy was still doing signs and indulging in his other pleasure, painting local landscapes around Strangford. 

He was, above all, a loving family man and is survived by his wife, Clare, six children, Jennifer, Valerie, Paul, Philip, Simon and Linda, 17 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.