Tributes paid to businessman Henry McCue who founded iconic jewellery empire
TRIBUTES have been paid to a talented, hard-working businessman and much-loved family man who founded an iconic jewellery empire.
Henry McCue, 86, who lived in Grimsby all of his life, founded House Of McCue, a bespoke jewellery manufacturer and retail firm.
The brand has been sold in Harrods and McCue ear piercing studs are sold in Harvey Nichols today.
Henry McCue passed away on December 27 following an eight-year battle with Alzheimer's disease.
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Paying tribute, his family spoke of his active life, in which he became a master of many skills.
He was born on October 22, 1926, in Grimsby, and was inspired from an early age by his father, a watchmaker and jeweller.
As with many young boys, Henry turned his hand to many trades before following in his father's footsteps, becoming a window cleaner, butcher's boy and more.
From the age of 18, Henry spent several years as an officer's driver during his National Service.
He is fondly remembered from this time for cleverly volunteering for the seemingly laborious task of potato peeling; ending up sitting comfortably on the hot water pipes while other troops were out in the cold on exercise.
During this time, Henry taught himself watchmaking, which he capitalised on upon his return to Grimsby in 1948, setting up as HN McCue, which still trades today as House Of McCue Jewellers, in Wilton Road, Humberston.
George Evardson, who worked for Henry for more than 50 years, said: "He would sit in an annexe under the stairs producing his first earrings to be sold to other local jewellers. The profit from these allowed the purchase of a little more gold for the next batch."
From these humble beginnings, the business expanded into three premises by the time Henry was in his mid-20s.
By 1963, it had grown into a large-scale countrywide wholesaler, as well as producing specialist tools for manufacturing and repairing items, an integral part of the business today. It was at this time Henry moved to Wilton Road.
His most notable achievement came in the mid-1970s, with his design, production and patenting of the world's first solid gold ear piercing stud.
In 2004, his son Sean acquired the Estelle Ear Piercing brand, and is now one of the top five manufacturers of studs and equipment in the world. His family remember Henry as "hands-on and a self-confessed workaholic", working well into his 70s until Alzheimer's made it impossible.
Henry spent his time helping raise his beloved granddaughter Ellie, and has been lovingly cared for by his wife, Ann.
He also leaves daughter-in-law Lynsey, eldest son Jeff and grandson Patrick, and a dedicated team of employees to carry on the business he dedicated his life to creating.