Obituary: Mark Sherriff CBE, stockbroker and businessman

Mark Sherriff, stockbroker and businessman. Picture: Contributed
Mark Sherriff, stockbroker and businessman. Picture: Contributed
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Mark Sherriff, who died at home in Blair Drummond on 22 July aged 80 after a short illness, was a widely-respected stockbroker and businessman with a long involvement in Scottish charity and military affairs.

Born in 1936 Robert Mark Sherriff (always known as Mark) was the youngest of the three sons of Christopher Sherriff and Elisabeth Greig. Raised at Craigmarloch near Kilmacolm, he was educated at Cargilfield in Edinburgh, Sedbergh in Cumbria and Trinity College, Cambridge where he read agriculture. Mr Sherriff carried out his National Service 1954-56, including a posting to occupied West Berlin, where he swapped cigarettes for bakelite opera records with Soviet troops.

For over 30 years Mr Sherriff was a Glasgow stockbroker, his career successfully adjusting to seismic changes in the UK stock market and investment industry over that period. He worked first for the firm of RC Greig, founded by his maternal great uncle, later for its merged successor Greig Middleton (later Gerrard Group, later merged into Barclays Wealth) which he served as partner, director and ultimately vice-chairman. After the firm became part of a larger UK-wide group, Sherriff helped resist moves to transfer operational jobs to London, and is credited with retaining skills in Glasgow that later benefited the city’s standing as a financial centre.

Between 1978 and 2002 he also served as vice-chairman of the Scottish Building Society, resisting the prevailing tide to ensure that it remained a mutual society owned by its members.

Highly principled in his business dealings, and remembered by colleagues as “tough but fair”, Mr Sherriff had little time for City slickers in pursuit of wealth for its own sake. He was as skilled and calm at navigating the politics of the boardroom – always in pursuit of “getting things done” – as he was at reading the market.

Throughout his life Mark Sherriff showed a strong commitment to giving back to society and lent his financial acumen and organisational drive to a number of charities. He served as chairman of the executive committee of the Erskine Home, chairman of the grant-making MacRobert Trust in Deeside, and was a trustee of the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum. He was also a member of the incorporated Glasgow, Stirlingshire & Sons of the Rock Society, a Trustee of the Western Club in Glasgow and a member of the Incorporation of Hammermen.

Running parallel to his professional and charitable work was a long association with the Territorial Army. He was a former chairman of the Highland Territorial Auxiliary and Volunteer Reserve Association (TAVRA), and was awarded CBE in 1996 in recognition of his service in this role. He was also an Honorary Colonel of the 7th/8th (Volunteer) Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and until recently an active member of the Queen’s bodyguard for Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers.

From 1995-2011 he served as Vice Lord Lieutenant for Stirling and Falkirk.

Mark Sherriff lived at Blair Drummond, Stirlingshire, for 55 years and was actively engaged with the local community. He held the position of Session Clerk and Elder of Kincardine-in-Menteith Church, where he was as happy running the bottle raffle stall at the kirk fair as he was in the boardroom.

An outdoorsman and natural sportsman, Mark was an enthusiastic skier, golfer, curler, and was feared by family and friends on the tennis court for his “wicked mastery of spin”. He loved fishing and shooting and the company of his Labrador dogs. His youthful ambition to farm was transferred into a passion for gardening and he spent many happy days nurturing his bountiful garden, growing 11 varieties of rose, 15 types of fruit and another 15 of vegetables.

Mark was a devoted husband to Margaret (Maggie), née Fraser, whom he married in 1960 and with whom he formed an inseparable duo. Together they dispensed generous hospitality to literally thousands of guests over the decades. He was a loving father to Robert, Nicola, Kate and Andrew, and an entertaining grandfather to Zelia, Hugh, Jethro, Leila, Jamie and Ian.

Although friends from school and army days remained closest, he met everyone on their own terms, and was an accomplished and subtle mentor and source of wise advice. In later years he became an intrepid global traveller, ensuring that he regularly saw his children and grandchildren, dispersed between Quebec and Hong Kong.

Mark and all his family were deeply grateful for the excellent care given by NHS Scotland throughout his later-life battles with cancer, and ultimately with heart failure. That friends, wider family and the community rallied to give support in his last illness was a testament to the affection and respect for which he was held. Those who relished his irreverent, and famously deadpan wit will not be surprised that he was making his family laugh until his last few hours.