There was one person missing from the throngs of people who filed through the doors of Osborne & Co. when it opened for the first time in Enniskillen last week -- Fred Kenwell.

The husband, father, grandfather and visionary businessman who ran hardware store A.E. Kenwell & Sons in Dromore up until his untimely death in 2016 would have relished watching his family follow in his illustrious footsteps as they expanded the business, now into home interiors and Christmas giftware. And not least his daughter in law Julie Kenwell.

The popular woman’s name will be familiar to readers of this newspaper as our esteemed former colleague who closed a most impressive chapter earlier this year and started a new one.

For as long as she and her family are about the memories of Mr. Kenwell will never fade, no matter how many times the bell above their new shop door on high street rings and people file past.

“Fred would have been so proud of what his family has achieved, and I wish so much that he could have been here to see the shop launch,” said Julie.

“If only he could have seen the huge support we received from family, friends and local businesses in the town who graciously gave their time to turn up at our opening last week and wish us well. He would have been in his element,” she told The Impartial Reporter.

The former journalist who is now making the news instead of reporting it is embarking on this new challenge with her sister in law Elaine under the guidance of her husband, Mr. Kenwell’s son, David.

“He is a carbon copy of his later father. Fred was a highly respected businessman who had one of the warmest hearts I know and the shop would never have come to fruition without the ambition, drive and vision of my husband.

“I will be forever in David’s debt. Not only did he take me on as a wife, but he has now taken me on as a business partner too and he believed in me when I didn’t really believe in myself,” she said.

Elaine said family business was at the heart of the Kenwells and her parents Fred and Evelyn taught her a lot about customer service, a strong work ethic and being part of a team.

“When my brother approached me to join Julie in opening the shop, I didn't hesitate. It was a challenging yet exciting time to get everything up and running and one of the craziest times of my life. I wouldn't change a thing.

“My little brother David is so protective of me and more like a big brother. I'm so grateful to have him and I couldn't ask for a better sister in law in Julie. We've literally been living in each other’s pockets over recent months and I've enjoyed every bit of it,” she said.

Throughout her eight years in this office Julie exemplified the values of this newspaper by reaching out, listening to people when others would not, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. It was, she admits, her dream to become a journalist and when she did she quickly rose to the top.

She studied English and Sociology at Queen’s University and did an additional year at North West Regional College in Londonderry where she studied newspaper journalism.

Before she had finished her course she managed to get a job working for the Tyrone Constitution in Omagh under the editorship of renowned journalist Wesley Acheson.

“When the job came up in The Impartial Reporter I thought I had no chance of getting it. But I think luck must have been very much on my side because just a few days before I got married in August 2010 I took up my position working alongside the best colleagues anyone could ever hope to find,” she said.

During her time at the newspaper Julie broke important stories including that the G8 summit of world leaders was to be held in Enniskillen before the then Prime Minister David Cameron had a chance to announce it. As a reporter and news editor she also took a particular interest in children’s health stories, writing also as a mother to two boys, Alfie and Jack, and through her writing became a voice for parents who sometimes felt powerless and needed a platform.

“Leaving The Impartial Reporter was a completely heart wrenching decision,” explained Julie.

“If someone had told me at the beginning of this year that I would be walking away from my beloved career to run a shop, I would have laughed at them. But life sometimes steers you in a direction you never would have expected.”

Looking back at her time at the newspaper Julie says there was always “a very special bond” with everyone she worked with.

“We refer to ourselves as the Impartial family, and I think that is a very apt description of our relationship with each other.

“And although my new role is entirely different to the one I held in the Impartial, I have already found myself calling upon many of the skills I acquired while working with incredible mentors such as Denzil McDaniel, Sarah Saunderson, Brian Donaldson and Mark Conway,” she said.

Daughter of Bob and Carol Moore, Julie spent the first few years of her life living at Drumgay in Enniskillen.

“Even though I was very young when we left, I still have lots of happy memories of living here. I know my parents feel the same way about the county too. It is where they first lived as a newly married couple, and where their own little family began.”

Having worked in retail during school and university, including three part time jobs at the one time, Julie is well equipped to take on a business of her own.

“I have the deepest respect for anyone running their own business, it is tough. But I would like to try and bring a focus back to the local high street. Especially over the coming months in the run up to Christmas, I hope that people will remember the importance of shopping local and supporting family businesses.

“I am full of excitement for what lies ahead for myself and the rest of the team, but I also have a deep respect for the building’s great history, its previous owners and everything they achieved.”

She says the last number of months have been an emotional rollercoaster but feels lucky to have received “so much love and support from my family and friends who were always there for me when I needed them most.”

“One of the things I have struggled with particularly is not being there as much as I would have liked for my two young boys over the last two months. I’m looking forward to settling into a better work and life balance now, which, no matter what your career path may be, is so important and no matter what, I am a mum first and foremost,” she said.

It’s family first for Julie, just as her beloved father in law would have wanted, and it’s onwards and upwards.

And as the saying goes, you may not always end up where you thought you were going, but you will always end up where you are meant to be.