Tributes have been paid to a longstanding chairman of one of the West Midlands’ best known industrial names GKN.
Sir Trevor Holdsworth, who was at the helm of the global giant for eight years during the 1980s recession, has died from cancer, aged 83.
The talented pianist, who was born the son of a bookmaker in Bradford, became an accountant by trade before spending 25 years of his career at GKN from 1963.
He was also Chancellor of Bradford University from 1992 to 1997 and in that year was made a Commander of the Victoria Order – a gift of the Queen – on his retirement as chairman of the International Trustee Board of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
He also held a number of chairmanships for various companies and organisations including the Confederation of British Industry from 1988 to 1990.
During Sir Trevor’s time at GKN, he was responsible for fundamental changes to group strategy.
Current chairman Roy Brown, said: “The contribution made by Sir Trevor Holdsworth over a quarter of a century to the creation of the modern GKN was enormous.
“During his 25 years with the company, he orchestrated GKN’s transformation from a UK-dominated industrial conglomerate to a focused global engineering group serving the automotive, aerospace and land systems markets.
“He was a great strategist and skilled leader of his top management team. GKN stakeholders owe him a huge debt of gratitude.”
During his school years Trevor got a place at Hanson Grammar School, where he was encouraged to go to university but his parents stopped him, believing it would only lead to a career in teaching.
He instead became articled to a firm of a chartered accountants.
His career was interrupted by National Service when he was posted to the British Forces Network in Germany and became the staff pianist.
There he began a collaboration with lyricist David Whitaker – co-creator of Dr Who – which lasted into the 60s.
Trevor passed his accountancy exams in 1949 and went to run the firm’s office in Luton. Laporte Chemicals gave the young accountant his first experience of big business and after 18 months, he got a job with Bowater Paper Corporation as assistant accountant.
In 1952 he married actress Patricia Ridler. The couple had three sons and settled in Kent until Sir Trevor was headhunted by Peter Brooke, now Lord Brooke, on behalf of GKN which he joined as deputy chief accountant in 1963 based at the Smethwick offices.
The family moved to Wellington Road, Edgbaston and he was made chairman of the company’s screws and fasteners division in 1968, then appointed financial controller and a director on the main board in 1970.
He was 43, the youngest ever board member.
During his time at the Redditch-based company, GKN moved into the automotive components market using the company’s constant velocity joint technology following the acquisition of another UK company.
This was a key component for the axles of modern cars.
Sir Trevor was awarded a number of honorary degrees from universities including Birmingham and Aston.
Son Peter said: “Dad turned his hand at anything and he was always successful. If he hadn’t have been so successful in business he would have been a musician.”
His wife Patricia died in 1993. He later remarried and is survived by wife Jenny and sons Tony, Peter and Nicholas, two grandsons and three granddaughters.
A private funeral has been held for family members. An open memorial service will be held later in the year.