HELENSBURGH man Frank Riding, who has died aged 66, was the managing director of Ridings Sawmills in Cardross and a well-known and widely respected figure in the Helensburgh and Lomond area.

Born in Wigan on July 13, 1951, the fourth child of Jesse and Fred Riding, he attended Lamberhead Green Primary School in the town, and first went to work at Riding and Anderton’s Seven Stars Sawmill in the town, owned by his father, at the age of 11.

He left school aged 14 on Friday, July 8, 1966, and started work as an apprentice fitter the following Monday.

He married Anne in May 1970, and the couple’s first child, Lindsay, was born later that year, soon to be followed by Mandy, David and Rachael.

Frank’s father acquired the sawmill in Cardross in 1974, but the industry was hit hard by a recession in 1981 which caused the Cardross mill to become the sole focus of the family business.

The family moved to Helensburgh in October of that year, and Frank turned a significant deficit at Ridings Sawmills into a profitable and successful business through grit, determination, hard graft and business acumen, to the point where the business today supports around 50 employees and their families in the Helensburgh and West Dunbartonshire areas.

He was named president of the United Kingdom Forest Products Association (UKFPA) in 2017 – only the 12th person to hold the post, and one which he accepted in the historic surroundings of the Houses of Parliament, delivering a memorable acceptance speech which brought tears of laughter to the eyes of many in the audience.

Despite his illness, he remained as active as he could in the association: in the midst of his treatment he hosted a meeting of UKFPA past presidents at his house, and was able to join Anne and Lindsay at the organisation’s AGM in May.

He was highly regarded in the timber industry in which he spent his entire working life, and the business in Cardross will continue, with Lindsay and David at the helm.

He taught all his children many valuable life lessons: the importance of working hard, the worth of laughter, the significance of friendships, family and love, and the value of maximising opportunities and taking risks.

The latter point was illustrated by the great storm of 1987 which battered much of south-east England: in the family’s words, Frank was “off like a greyhound out the traps”, buying up as much of the blown-down timber as he could at a much-reduced price.

He also had his leg crushed while carrying out work during the annual maintenance shut-down at the mill, just three weeks before Rachael’s wedding – but undaunted, he ordered a special ‘knee scooter’ on the internet and had it decorated in the wedding’s floral theme so that he could ‘scoot’ his youngest daughter down the aisle.

Locally, he was actively involved at Helensburgh Cricket and Rugby Football Club for many years, spending five years as vice-president of the rugby club, during which time the first XV achieved their highest ever position in the Scottish leagues – a record which still stands today.

He was also a keen golfer, and in 2017 completed a four-year tenure as chairman of Helensburgh Golf Club’s management committee.

He died peacefully at home in Helensburgh on June 16, surrounded by his family, after a brave fight against glioblastoma multiforme, a rare and very aggressive form of brain cancer.

He is survived by his wife Anne, children Lindsay, Mandy, David and Rachael and their partners, and by seven grandchildren, with an eighth due in October of this year.