Bolton man Don Ford, known as a towering figure in British industry having been director of British Steel and honoured for his work with a CBE, has died, aged 91.
Donald William Ford — known as ‘Don’ — died on Christmas Eve at his home at New Bewley.
A formidable figure, Don had during his career worked alongside three British Steel chairmen, including the controversial Sir Ian McGregor, and went on to work in the private sector for Tinsley Wire Industries Limited taking him all over the world.
Born in Scunthorpe, on 23rd December, 1929, Don was the third of seven siblings and came from humble origins.
His father worked on the railway and the family never had any money to spare.
Whatever Don was to have later in life, was earned through his own abilities and hard work.
He was an intelligent boy and won a scholarship to grammar school.
He left school aged 16 and got a job as a trainee chemist in the steel works. The initial plan had been to work towards a qualification as a chemist but his natural abilities were spotted and he was picked out for management training.
He began as a shift manager, before gradually climbing the ladder to works manager for all the steelworks in Scunthorpe and eventually a director of British Steel.
It was in Scunthorpe that he met his wife Joyce and the couple were married on his 21st birthday.
They had two children, Rob and Sally; grandchildren, William and Rachael Stephenson; and two great-grandchildren, Freddie and Hattie. Family and work were to be the twin points of focus for Don’s life and he was utterly dedicated to both.
He left British Steel in 1982 and went into the private sector becoming chief executive and later chairman of Tinsley Wire Industries Limited at Sheffield for 15 years.
The steel industry brought many opportunities for international travel, including memorably an early trip to Japan in 1963 before it had really opened up to the western world.
For almost 45 years, travel would take Don and Joyce all over Europe, to the USA, Korea and back to Japan.
As well as being a member of the British Iron and Steel Institute, he become an honorary member of the American Iron and Steel Institute.
He was president of the British Independent Steel Producers Association.
He was invited to become Master Cutler on three occasions — a prestigious honour in Sheffield — and on each occasion appointed others in his place.
He was, however, made a freeman of the city of Sheffield and was awarded the CBE for his services to the steel industry.
Don ‘retired’ in 1997 which gave him time to take up other directorships with businesses including NatWest Bank, Mayer International, Hugh McKay, United Engineering Steels, British Rope and many others.
Shortly after he and Joyce moved from Sheffield to live in Bolton near Sally and their grandchildren.
Throughout his life Don loved fishing, shooting and classical music.
Having enjoyed travelling with Joyce, he continued to travel all over the world following her death in 2013.
He also followed horse racing and had part-ownership in several horses.
He loved to be outside and would enjoy a walk from his home into Bolton village most days.
Don loved helping people who needed it, giving people opportunities to succeed something he had demonstrated during his time as a director of British Steel when he was always fiercely on the side of the workers and fought to keep the steel industry in Scunthorpe.
Don was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer six weeks before he died and his daughter Sally Kuzbyt has thanked Hospice at Home, Carlisle and North Lakeland, for the care and support they provided.
Donations in his memory will go to the charity.
The funeral was held at All Saints Church, Bolton, with Walkers Funeral Directors, Appleby, having charge of arrangements.