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by Chris Tobin

Paul Christie can remember the day when there was one podiatrist in Timaru  – himself. Now there are six.

Soon it will be five as Mr Christie winds down a lifetime career as a podiatrist in Timaru – coming up to 56 years in total.

“I’m going because I’m an old fart [he is 72] and it’s time to ride into the sunset.”

Mr Christie joined his father’s podiatry business on leaving St Patrick’s High School.

“There was a gap and I took the easy option,” he joked.

At first his father, Andy Christie, had premises on the corner of Sophia and George Sts but then shifted to the northern end of Stafford St.

“I started in 1964 opposite Ballantynes. We were there 30 years, then we came here to the former Frasers’ Bookshop [in central Stafford St] 30-odd years ago.”

Throughout his time in the business there was a shoe retail side which was an ideal complement to the podiatry.

“It’s been a very good business and given two generations a very good living.”

Over the years he has seen substantial changes, for example with orthotics which have gone from being made with steel, to plastics and finally to a range of materials.

Knowledge had grown substantially also.

“Our understanding of the foot is growing all the time. It’s a very complicated piece of machinery.

“It’s the old story, if I knew then what I know now.”

Lynley Gordon, who has worked as a retail assistant for Mr Christie for 22 years, said she would miss the job.

“It’s very sad.”

Mr Christie has plans to do some travelling with his wife Cynthia and to watch his six grandsons grow up.

The lease on the premises was not being renewed but the business had not shut yet.

“Now we’re just selling out the stock which will be by March-April. When it does sell out, I’ll go.”

How will he feel when that happens?

“I’ll be pretty sad  – it will be missing the connection with people and with this job you feel you are helping.

“People come in with pain and go out without pain. You feel you are helping them.”