John WMM Richard, stockbroker
Born: 19 April, 1933 Died: 15 August, 2003, aged 70
JOHN Richard, the only son of Colonel and Mrs JEM Richard, was born in Edinburgh and educated at Cargilfield School, Eton and Cambridge, where he graduated BA in Scots Law and Economics.
He had a brief spell as a trainee accountant with the Edinburgh company Chiene and Tait but quickly decided that totting up rows of figures would not be his life’s work and he became an apprentice stockbroker with Bell Lawrie, thus beginning a career that spanned more than 40 years.
He became a partner in the company and was very involved in the hierarchy of the Stock Exchange. He became chairman of the Scottish Stock Exchange in 1978 and a member of the Stock Exchange Council in London at the time of "big bang".
During his time at Bell Lawrie, John and the late Earl of Strathmore, a life-long friend, became known for their practical jokes. On one occasion, they went to the attic flat at the St Andrew Square office and put an overcoat on a hanger at the end of a rope and lowered it down each floor, pausing at the window of every office where rather stuffy meetings were taking place and causing widespread consternation. He was also the first in the "square" to park his red Ferrari among the Rolls-Royces - he loved fast cars all his life.
He became a trustee to a number of well-known families, looking after their interests, and held company directorships, probably most notably at Cowan de Groot, the London toy manufacturers and importers, and owners of the Russian Shop. It was through this that he was featured favourably in Prada magazine, long before the era of glasnost.
John joined the Edinburgh Merchant Company and rose to assistant master, taking a great interest in Mary Erskine’s school.
A well known and successful racehorse owner, John became chairman of Musselburgh Racecourse and initiated the hand-over to East Lothian Council, in order that European funding could be attracted to improve the facilities and the course.
At the age of 60, he became chairman of the newly reopened Monktonhall Colliery (partly brought about by his wife, Christine, a former Conservative group leader on the City of Edinburgh Council, who lobbied the government to enable the mineworkers’ consortium to get the pit licence).
He was very "hands on" and worked as the company’s chief executive, regularly going underground and negotiating with the miners, who held him in high regard. After Monktonhall was taken over, he became involved in another coal mine, as chairman of a newly opened pit in Ammanford in South Wales.
John was a prominent member of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party where he held a number of offices and served on numerous policy groups. He was chairman of the party in Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles.
He was an old-fashioned "One Nation" liberal Conservative. Still active in politics in retirement, he acted as his wife’s campaign manager in her unsuccessful attempt to be elected to represent the East Lothian constituency in the first elections to the Scottish Parliament in 1999.
Latterly, he and Christine moved to Livingston to be near her place of work at the new West Lothian College. John happily embraced the vibrant culture of the new town and was popular with his young neighbours and their children. His own four children, his stepdaughter and his seven grandchildren were a source of great joy to him.
All his life, friendships meant a great deal to him. He was great fun, did not have a mean streak of any kind in his make-up and his spirit will live on in many hearts.
John is survived by his second wife, Christine, and the family.