GALLERY: Butler for Tom Hanks, Robbie Williams, Sir Paul McCartney and the Queen looks back on his career

16:24 20 March 2014

Poets House Ely  Butler, George Telford. Picture: Steve Williams.

Poets House Ely Butler, George Telford. Picture: Steve Williams.

Archant

He has been a butler for Tom Hanks, Bob Dylan, Robbie Williams, the Saudi royals and the Queen.

Poets House Ely.  Butler, George Telford. Picture: Steve Williams.Poets House Ely. Butler, George Telford. Picture: Steve Williams.

But it was meeting his musical hero Sir Paul McCartney which left George Telford star struck.

“Because I grew up in the era of the Beatles, when first met him I was star struck. It was a dream to meet such a talented musician”, he said.

The proud Scot, who is head butler at the Poets House Hotel in Ely and Paddocks House Hotel in Newmarket, has during his illustrious career racked up more than 30 years of service.

The 59 year-old, who was inspired to become a butler by watching 1970s TV show Upstairs Downstairs, bristles at the suggestion that being a butler is demeaning.

Poets House Ely. Afternoon Tea being served by Butler, George Telford. Picture: Steve Williams.Poets House Ely. Afternoon Tea being served by Butler, George Telford. Picture: Steve Williams.

He said: “I’m very proud to be a butler. Being a butler is not demeaning to anyone. We are not slaves. We are a respected part of the community.

“What we do is provide a service, which is what hospitality is all about. No is not a word in my vocabulary.

“It can be tiring because you are on call 24/7 but it is very rewarding.”

As part of his role as head butler, he is constantly at his guest’s beck and call.

He said: “We welcome the guest to the hotel, provide them with a private check in and then take them up to their room. We can also offer them a tour of the hotel.

“We can bring them up afternoon tea, take care of their dinner requirements and run them a bath.

“In the morning, we can bring them breakfast on a tray and a newspaper, all with a smile on our face and a good morning.

“The key is to build a relationship of trust with the guest.”

When you are a butler, presentation and performance are everything, George says.

“Like anything in hospitality you have got to dress for the part. Then it is like theatre.

“Once you leave your room and meet the guest you are on stage. It is important you play the role well.

“If you manage this, it doesn’t matter if the guest is male or female; they will accept you and be eating out of the palm of your hand.”

One of George’s most recent assignments was for Robbie Williams and his family in Scotland.

He decided it would be fitting to introduce the singer and his family to a true Scottish delicacy.

He said: “Robbie Williams was in the garden of a hotel in Scotland so I came out with a silver cloche and offered him, his lovely wife and his beautiful baby a deep fried Mars bar, which they accepted and thoroughly enjoyed.

“Serving people in the entertainment industry is not an easy job because they sleep all day and are out all night, but it is a pleasure.

“They live different lives but as people are no different to any of us.”

Another famous person George has served is the American actor Tom Hanks, for whom he holds great admiration.

He said: “Tom Hanks would often come on board the yacht I worked on and I have worked for him privately.

“He is a great guy, a father figure first and actor second.

“He is a gentleman who in real life is just like the characters he plays on screen.

“I have been fortunate in my career that I have never been approached by anyone in a rude manner.

“I’ve always been treated and rewarded well.”

George is in the middle of writing his memoirs, which he says “will share a bit of gossip”, but he insists the key to being a butler is discretion.

“A butler sees everything but is very careful of what he tells others. Discretion is key.”

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