Born: January 2, 1945;

Died: December 21, 2021

Roy Slater, who has died aged 76, was a pioneering estate agent and businessman who was once Scotland’s youngest councillor. A man of fastidious courtesy and impeccable manners, he never allowed his prominent status or comfortable lifestyle to separate him from an army of friends who warmed to his modest, warm and unassuming nature.

Roy Mckinley Slater was born in Glasgow, one of three sons to William and Margaret Slater. He attended Belmont House school in Newton Mearns and then Eastwood High school. In his formative years he would be imbued by the story of Glasgow’s South Side and its desirable suburbs. Little did he know at the time but he would use that knowledge to help build a career.

He discovered that business was to become his forte after leaving a job as a trainee manager in Lewis’s. He started off in estate agency in the late 1960s where two of his trainees were Iain Hogg and Geoffrey Howison. The idea for Slater, Hogg and Howison (SHH) was hatched in Roy’s house in Moray Place in Strathbungo.

By the age of 30 he became a founding partner of the business. This was back in an era when estate agents were not quite regarded as financial hyenas. The enterprise started off as a modest shop at Clarkson Toll in 1975.

Estate agency was not as developed as it is today and the three founding partners had the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time as their modest beginnings started to take on the trappings of a very successful business.

Alan Grant, a long-standing colleague of Slater, recalls “he helped evolve estate agency in Scotland into a proper, structured, disciplined and managed business”.

Roy Slater parted company with SHH in 1984 and eventually Iain Hogg and Geoffrey Howison sold the business for £9million to TSB in 1986.

The departed partner established Roy Slater Estate Agents. It would grow to become the largest independent estate agency in the west of Scotland, helped in no small part by Roy’s personal reputation. The company was the subject of a management buyout in 1996. It allowed Roy to diversify into other aspects of the property market as he set about renovating and selling property.

The architecture, provenance and sale of houses was his business. It is doubtful if anyone could rival his impressive, near encyclopaedic knowledge of property on Glasgow’s South Side.

Even in semi-retirement he was hired in 1998 as a consultant by Slater, Hogg who exploited his unrivalled knowledge and affability to boost business. In truth Roy was never a sharp suited businessman with a salesman’s bent for pushiness. He cared too much about clients to conform to stereotype.

Earlier in his life he had dabbled in politics. He joined the Scottish Liberal Party and by 1967 was elected a councillor in Renfrewshire a tenure that would last seven years. At aged 22 he was the youngest councillor in Scotland. He was a lifelong Liberal who was a generous supporter to the East Renfrewshire constituency party where he was keen to promote younger talent as a means of keeping the flame alive.

Former Eastwood candidate Allan Steele Jnr recalls “when I stood for Parliament in 2001 he insisted on driving me to every polling station. When I left the RAF last year Roy was insistent that he would set me up in business. His loyalty and his liberalism meant that he never turned away a friend in need.”

His business activities meant he never entertained the idea of a political career. In fact in just about everything he did he never sought preferment for himself. He was essentially a modest man who took pleasure when others succeeded.

He loved company, carried himself with a natural warmth and was only very occasionally argumentative, none more so than in the company of his great friend of over 50 years, Bob Thomson.

A former chair of the Scottish Labour Party, Thomson and Slater would argue the merits of socialism and liberalism. Despite political differences there’s was a genuinely respectful friendship of enormous longevity, characterised by genuine warmth and a lot of laughter.

Thomson says, “he was kind, generous and considerate to everyone he worked and socialised with, a true gentleman who will be missed by his many friends.”

Over the decades he provided a helping hand to those in need. It was always done discretely and without show in a way that spoke to the essential character of the man.

He enjoyed foreign travel, particularly holidays in Spain where he once owned a villa near Torrevieja. and where he also dabbled in estate agency. Once he met a young couple in Spain. They told him he had sold their parents’ house. On inquiring as to their name Roy managed to tell them he had sold their grandparents’ house too.

His business partner and close friend, the late Gerry Scobie, organised a submission to the committee that makes recommendations on honours. In 2014 he was made an OBE for services to business and charity. The honour was bestowed by the Queen at a ceremony at Holyrood in the summer of 2015. He was thrilled by the recognition and had absolutely no idea he had been nominated.

The last decade of his life was marred by ill health. He suffered a stroke in 2009 at the age of 64. He helped raise awareness of the condition by helping NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde with promotional material highlighting how patients should deal with the new challenges they faced.

He rallied and made a partial recovery but his life, which was beginning to get back to normal was shattered by the advent of a second stroke in 2019. The flicker of his eyes told you he followed everything that was said to him but articulation was all but impossible as frustration defined his later years. Life was made tolerable by the unqualified support of friend Tommy Dunlop and house keeper Joan Jones.

Roy Slater evoked great affection from those who met him. All were impressed with his fundamental decency. He lived his life as he wanted and in doing so touched the lives of many others, all for the better. It’s not a bad epitaph for a man who gave so freely and generously of his time to make friendship such a rewarding experience.

Roy Slater is survived by his brother Jim and by nieces Fiona and Joan and by cousin Carol.