Businessman and director of Elgin City FC

Born: February 25, 1937;

Died: August 22, 2019

WILLIAM 'Bill' Arif, who died aged 82, was a successful Scots-Iraqi businessman who established a chain of betting shops that at its peak operated over 20 outlets in towns all over the north of Scotland. His five hotel, motel and restaurant operations were also highly regarded amongst tourists and business travellers to Moray and Caithness.

He was born in Thurso, Caithness to his nurse mother Isabel (nee Sinclair), and his father Dr Kamel Arif, a native of Baghdad. The couple had met in an hospital in Edinburgh, where Bill's father served as a doctor, while his mother was a nurse on the wards.

Bill spent the first seven years of his life on Weydale Farm, near Thurso, whilst his father had returned home to continue his medical career in Baghdad.Wartime travel restrictions meant Isabel and her three young children were unable to join him until peace had been restored after the Second World War.

The family regarded education as being very important so Bill was sent to a boarding school firstly in Baghdad and in his teenage years to Alexandria, Egypt.

Isabel realised that Bill would have to retake his examinations in English for entry to a British University so she arranged for a placement in for him in London. That resulted in success with his degree in civil engineering being awarded by the University of Nottingham.

Bill had been inspired in his initial choice of career by the magnificence of Iraq's ancient built heritage. But he found that the practical necessity of measuring and 'laying-out' civil engineering sites in all-weathers Britain was not to his taste.

In the Autumn of 1960, Parliament passed the Betting and Gaming Act. This paved the way for betting shops, bingo halls ... and even casinos ... to appear on the UK's high streets. Previously any legal betting on horse-racing could only take place at the tracks themselves.

Bill was partial to the odd flutter on the nags, but still found the procedure difficult. Bets from Thurso and most other small Scottish towns had to be taken to the local Post Office and placed in a sealed bag and sent to a bookmaker in one of the big cities, in his case Edinburgh. If there were any winnings those had to be sent back, again in a sealed bag, and picked up by the punter in the local PO, a procedure that could take five days.

Bill decided that there had to be a better way and at the age of 23 he succeeded in gaining a licence for Thurso's first betting shop, so the William Arif Turf Accountants office opened above a clothing shop.

He formed the business Scotscoup The Bookies, gaining properties from Crieff in Perthshire via Ellon in Aberdeenshire and Northwards from those, including Elgin in Moray where, the group's headquarters was established. In 2000, Bill and his wife Linda and their son Scott, who grew up to join the family business, moved home from Thurso to Fochabers in Moray.

While in his 20s, Bill also had the vision of a modern motel in Thurso. With his horse-racing connections, he named it The Weigh Inn. It has been highly successful over several decades as a weddings and conference venue, as well a provider of modern bedrooms and self-catering lodges in its grounds. Now the Highland Travel Inns company has a total of five establishments.

In the early 2000s, after being admitted to the Scottish League set-up, Elgin City FC was going through a 'sticky patch' off the park and Bill, by then with son Scott a regular attend at Borough Briggs park for Saturday home-games, was persuaded to invest, and was appointed to the club's board as a director.

Bill was a keen golfer throughout his adult life and was a co-founder of a golf-related group that played on over 20 courses in the North and organised twice-yearly outings to places further afield, as well as arranging many charitable events.

In April, 2019, Bill was diagnosed as suffering from cancer of the oesophagus.