A CARNOUSTIE man is carving an enviable reputation for himself on the after-dinner speaker circuit in Scotland and is currently the youngest on the list.
He is Paul Reid (29), Westhaven Park, who has been speaking at sportsman’s dinners since he was 16. He has worked in the commercial department at Dundee United FC for the past 11 years.
In his speaking career, he has met many famous and influential people.
Paul told the Guide & Gazette: “I have been doing sports impressions since I was about 14. At my first ever dinner, I spoke with Rangers and Scotland legend Jim Baxter.
“By 18 years of age I was chosen by a national newspaper to speak in front of 1,000 guests at Lubomir Moravcik’s benefit dinner. Soon after that Chic Young recommended me to BBC Scotland and I was auditioned and selected to be on ‘Only An Excuse’ where I worked alongside Jonathan Watson on the Hogmany show.
“Since then I have been working extremely hard building a name for myself around Scotland speaking at many events for professional football clubs such as Celtic, Rangers, Hearts and Hibernian.
“At 22 years of age I was selected by Glasgow Rangers to go to Monaco and be the sole speaker at Mark Hateley’s charity weekend. I have also been guest speaker at tribute dinners for the likes of Neil Lennon, Artur Boruc, Maurice Malpas and Graeme Roberts. Earlier this year I was chosen by the Scottish Football Writers to be the speaker at their prestigious annual end of season awards dinner in Glasgow.”
Paul continued: “Last week I was given a massive opportunity. Dunfermline FC legend Jim Leishman arranged for Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to come to Scotland and take part in a special evening to raise money for his late wife’s charity, The Mary Leishman Foundation.
“The event took place last Thursday night at The Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline, and the 1,400 tickets were sold within a matter of days Mr Leishman contacted me expressing his wish for me to appear alongside Ferguson on stage and entertain the crowd on the night.
“I did not have to think twice about it as it was such an honour to be trusted with such a monumental event and I am so grateful that he chose me out of all the other people out there.”
He described his experience: “On the night, I met Sir Alex for around an hour before the show started. He was great. We spoke about football, golf, and of course, about people trying to impersonate his voice. I could not believe how approachable he was and at times, I had to pinch myself that I was sitting having a cup of tea with the most famous football manager in the world.
“It was great being able to see the man away from the professional side of him. I spoke halfway through the show and it could not have gone better. The audience was magnificent and up for a giggle and I got a brilliant response.”
The audience included Scotland manager Craig Levein and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Paul went on: “Having worked with Craig Levein for three years at Tannadice he had heard me impersonating him a few times and is always winding me up. During the half-time interval, a member of Special Branch providing Gordon Brown’s security told me that Mr Brown wished to come back stage and talk to me.
“He could not have been nicer. He asked how long I had been entertaining and if I could impersonate any Raith Rovers players, I did not have the heart to say I’d never heard any of the current Raith players speak!
“After the night had finished Sir Alex Ferguson came up to me and shook my hand and was very complimentary. Mr Leishman ‘phoned me the next day and told me the night had been a massive success and everyone was commenting on how well I had done.”
Although he is still in his 20s, Paul has spoken at many high profile events and has met so many wonderful people.
He stated: “It is bizarre that I am now entertaining people around the country, as I never thought being able to do people’s voices at 14 years old would lead to so many opportunities for me.”
Later this year he is due to be a guest of Tam Cowan on Radio Scotland’s ‘Off The Ball’ which he is very excited about.
Paul concluded: “I was obsessed with watching football when I was a child and I idolised the players and managers in Scotland. Now I speak alongside many of them on the after-dinner circuit and they have become close friends of mine. I am loving it.”