'˜I couldn't believe the size of the Christmas spread': Leeds author lifts lid on prison life

A Leeds prison officer has lifted the lid on his three decades working in some of the UK's toughest jails in an autobiography he says will 'navigate readers through the corridors of a closed-off world'.

20 April 2012.....        B wing at HMP Leeds
20 April 2012..... B wing at HMP Leeds

Seacroft-born Paul Ward worked at HMP Leeds as well as Full Sutton, Strangeways and Hull prisons before becoming a property development entrepreneur.

He has now written a book, From Jailer to Entrepreneur, which is described as “blending memoir with elements of self-development and social study”.

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The 60-year-old father-of-two, who now lives near Pocklington in East Yorkshire, left school at sixteen for an engineering apprenticeship and learned the tricks of the trade at Kirkstall Forge Engineering.

Paul Ward

His father, a serving police officer, encouraged him to enter the Prison Service and his first posting was at HMP Leeds as a “twenty-two year old still wet behind the ears”.

According to his publisher: “What started as an intimidating job turned into a satisfying thirty-year career as an officer and governor grade working in some of the UK’s toughest prison establishments.”

He told the YEP: “I have had so many people over the years tell me my life was interesting. You don’t realise at the time how interested other people are.

“I love books as well and I thought I would love to write something. People have this interest in prison for whatever reason.”

Paul Ward

Describing one memorable incident from his career: “At HMP Full Sutton there is a unit within the prison, a specialist unit with ten or 11 cells, there were a couple of Mafiosi there, two IRA members and a couple of London gangsters.

“At Christmas you would not believe the spread they had, we used to go shopping for them, you have never seen a piece of salmon so big in your life. The spread they had was astonishing, the powers-that-be let it happen for a time.”

After retiring from the Prison Service after 30 years, Mr Ward turned his hand to property development and is a founding director of TeLo Homes Ltd. He talks of being able to “follow his dream of being an entrepreneur and focus on new creative projects”.

He said: “I am big on the importance in believing in yourself, that life is in your hands and you can change it.

“So many people just sit and moan about their lives. I just want to say to people ‘stop moaning about things and deal with it yourself.”

From Jailer to Entrepreneur is available to purchase from October 16.