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David Ball

Expert in banking information technology;

Born: April 23, 1956; Died: January 5, 2013.

David Ball, who died in a skydiving accident aged 56, was one of the country's leading experts in information technology for the banking industry. As head of group technology for HBOS (Europe), he had one of the biggest IT roles in British banking and after the financial crisis was instrumental in the formation and leadership of the new Tesco Bank. Latterly, he was a senior figure in the IT department of the Co-operative Bank.

He was educated at Stewart's Melville College in Edinburgh and graduated in economics and accounting from the University of Edinburgh in 1979. He suffered from keratoconus and underwent a double corneal transplant. Before the operation, when he could barely see, he would record all his lectures on a tape and painstakingly transcribe them.

After university he trained with Ernst & Young and became a chartered accountant and then a chartered taxation advisor, specialising in banking, manufacturing, brewing and insurance. He took an avid interest in what was then an emerging digital technology industry and quickly recognised the impact it might have on accounting and banking systems.

In 1987 he joined the Bank of Scotland and was tasked with in-sourcing the bank's corporate and commercial tax work. He was then appointed chief manager of direct mortgage operations, his first opportunity to manage a department and introduce computing technology.

At this early stage of the internet revolution there was scepticism about it being a passing phase but Mr Ball's vision was much clearer. He had a major success in convincing the Bank of Scotland to set up an ecommerce department and went on to become the head of information technology for the corporate division in 1994, a role that broadened significantly after the merger, in 2001, that created the Halifax/BOS group HBOS.

In 2007, he became head of group technology for HBOS (Europe) then came the banking crisis and the resulting turmoil and insecurity within the industry. Mr Ball decided to leave HBOS and took up a new position with Tesco Bank as head of information technology.

Having met this challenge, he sought new pastures and last year left Tesco to set up his own company, DCB Consulting, and was immediately employed by the Co-operative Bank, not just for his technological acumen but to grow their presence in the UK by acquiring branches put up for sale by Lloyds.

Leaving aside this professional prowess, he made friends wherever he went and knew instinctively that to succeed he had to delegate and he did so wisely.

He was the middle son of John Ball, a dental surgeon, and Elizabeth Ball, a home economist. They were a close family and David enjoyed making model aircraft with his father; they also built a double kayak and loved adventure. The young David and his friends turned a next door vacant site into a race track for carts, mopeds and a Bantam 125 motorcycle. He loved motorcycling and saved every penny to buy a Suzuki 250 and passed his test days after his 17th birthday. Between school and university he took time out to work as a motorcycle courier in London.

In 1982 he married Ruth, who had her own hairdressing salon and still does. They went skiing and scuba diving together, but his love was hang gliding. His bikes progressed to a Fireblade and then a Ducatti 999 and he loved to take them to their limits at Knockhill racetrack. Both he and his wife obtained private pilot licences but not content with that he went on to a full instrument rating, a twin-engine licence and then a helicopter licence.

Perhaps a clear guide to his character was his dining room. There was no large mahogany table or silverware or trinkets. The room was full of carbon-fibre bicycles, radio-controlled aircraft, cars and helicopters with the odd ski boot and running shoe thrown in.

He made many friends over the years and had a large extended family and all these people are in accord in recognising his outstanding achievements, balanced by his modest, quiet and thoughtful character. He was always ready to listen, always ready to help and always ready to advise.

He is survived by Ruth, their sons Elliot and Oscar and daughter Rowan.

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