Professional, assured, focused, not least passionate about celebrating Lancashire and all it has to offer, Charles has now been invited to take on a new role as Honorary Colonel of Lancashire Army Cadets.
It is, he says a gratifying moment and a great privilege in his illustrious career, which has seen his works admired across the world and exhibited alongside the country’s artist elite.
From his studios at the family-owned Roach Bridge, where he is working on his latest specialist project, Charles talks with great enthusiasm for the voluntary youth organisation, sponsored by the Ministry of Defence.
The cadets serve around 850 youngsters from around the county offering life skills and training that help transform lives for children of all abilities and backgrounds
He says some might not readily associate an artist and the military but Charles hails from a long line of servicemen and his son Albert (a former cadet with the Longridge detachment) is currently undergoing his officer training at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.
So armed with a wealth of contacts and an arsenal of experience Charles feels well-placed to bring a new facet to the voluntary-led organisation.
The Deputy Lieutenant for Lancashire says: “It is a wonderful, wonderful organisation and I am so privileged to have been invited as the new honary colonel.
“I am here to encourage and support the young cadets and the fantastic volunteers and I’m really excited about what I can bring to the organisation by being more involved.
“People might think an artist and the army? But if you look to the Chelsea Arts Club, where I am a member, there is a very long and rich history with the military, members have been associated with the Artist Rifles dating back to the First World War.
“I will bring a different facet and I do know how to brush up and polish my boots! I think it is a wonderful opportunity to serve in my capacity as an artist supporting these very dedicated volunteers.”
Charles has supported the Friends of Lancashire Army Cadets through his business endeavours over the last few years.
His two children Albert and Matilda were both active members.
Albert was appointed cadet regimental sergeant major, the senior cadet appointment in the ACF, and Tilly achieved her Duke of Edinburgh Gold award.
“I really believe in the great work of the Army Cadet Force, both of my children loved their time in the organisation where they learned leadership and teamwork and made some great friends.”
The volunteers, he says work tremendously hard in helping instil many attributes in the young cadets, who demonstrate a real respect for discipline and community spirit beyond their years.
But above all, what he hugely appreciates are the efforts in helping youths realise their potential regardless of social standing.
He is encouraged by the notion the cadets brings together all walks of life as ‘equals in uniform’.
“Everyone is one of the same, different backgrounds, on an even keel and there are so many opportunities.
“How many people today are taught to read a map or build themselves a tent? These are real life skills, open to any youngster,.
“It’s very gratifying to see these young people really engage.
“I recently had the pleasure of observing some of the senior cadets on a session about leadership, hearing these young people talking about world leaders Obama, Trump, Putin, Ghandi.
“It wasn’t just their conversations on such people but their analysis – it was quite extraordinary
“I’m 52 and I’m not ashamed to say that I am still learning something new everyday.”
It is now 20 years since the unveiling of Passacaglia, one of Charles best known works, which resides on Brighton beach.
A number of his sculptures are dotted around London and his abstract works have been shipped across the world from America to Asia.
Using the very best materials for his sculptures in iron, aluminium, bronze and a special nickel bronze alloy, his works are high in demand among well-known international institutions.
And he has exhibited alongside some of the country’s leading artists and sculptors including Anthony Gormley, Damien Hirst, Sir Anthony Caro, Philip King, Bill Woodrow, Nigel Hall and Lynn Chadwick.
Born in Derby, Charles was invited to study fine art at the Royal College of Art, London, where he came to specialise in sculpture.
He was fascinated with the arts in his early life but has a huge respect for the military; his family’s association with the armed forces, particularly the Royal Artillery can be traced back to 1840.
His father George, an engineer, was also a keen painter like his own father and grandfather were.
Charles was educated at Ampleforth, the Roman Catholic college in Yorkshire: “Maths, music and art is what we were encouraged to do.”
It was art which led him to a foundation course in Derby, where he discovered sculpture came more easily to him than drawing:
“In my family, my generation were the first ones – in fact my step father told me he hadn’t served his time in the forces for me not to follow my creative passions. He was determined I would go to art school – my father too actively encouraged me.”
It was in 1999 Charles relocated from London to Lancashire with his wife Camilla, whose family originated in the Red Rose county and together they transformed Roach Bridge Mill, establishing Roach Bridge Tissues by the River Darwen at Samlesbury. The paper mill had been owned by Camilla’s family until the 1980s.
Today Charles’ sculptures are planned, designed and put together with the help and expertise of a trusted team of Lancashire craftspeople .
He said: “There are just so many fantastic, innovative people, with so many amazing skills on the doorstep and the creativity here in Lancashire is unique.
“A lot of my work I can say is exclusively Lancashire and that is very, very important to me.”
Among his other professional achievements, Charles is a holder of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion, has sat on the council of the Royal Society of British Sculptors and was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire in 2014
Camilla’s business expertise has seen her invited as the first woman to the Made in Britain board.
With Albert settled at RMA Sandhurst and Matilda working hard for her degree at Oxford University, Charles says there was a moment where the couple thought they would be feeling the effects of ‘empty nest syndrome.’
It seems with plenty of projects ahead, it is not quite the case.
Colonel Neil Jurd, who leads Lancashire ACF says: “I invited Charles to join us as our Honorary Colonel because he is a dynamic, creative and engaging man – a great example for our cadets.”
Lancashire ACF meet in 32 locations across the county. The organisation’s headquarters are based in Fulwood, but the ACF has 33 detachments run by more than 175 adult volunteers.
Detachments run from Preston, Blackpool, Chorley and Lancaster to Barnoldswick, Carnforth and Ormskirk. They are seeking new youngsters from the age of 12 upwards to join their twice weekly meets, as well as adult volunteers to help to find details of your local club, call 01772 717078.