Banker and Deputy Lieutenant of Renfrewshire

Born: April 19, 1940;

Died: September 8, 2019

JIM Wardrop, who has died aged 79, was a banker and Deputy Lieutenant of Renfrewshire and a well-known figure in Paisley.

He was brought up in Old Paisley. His father was a joiner and fought with the Royal Artillery in North Africa.

One of my best friends in Greenock was Robin McGill who had to move back to Paisley. It was there that I fell in with a quartet of apprentice bankers, Robin, James, Jim and Ian, on Saturday afternoons and evenings, playing golf at Elderslie or visiting Paisley cinemas. Jim in 1968 was my best man and godfather to my two sons.

The four apprentice bankers went their own banking ways. Jim was a product of the long defunct John Neilson Institute, was exceptionally good with people, and was chosen by the National Commercial Bank, later RBS, for their International Division. He spent several years in the seventies managing their branch in San Francisco, with two home addresses in Tiburon where he enjoyed views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

He returned to Scotland and remained a senior manager in the International Division until his retirement. He often represented them when accompanying flights of businessmen abroad on export ventures to meet customers and agents.

He was, however, a died-in-the-wool Paisley Buddy, always working hard for his home town. His ability to make friends beyond the bank proved of great use and he was often involved helping others. His Christmas card list held over 300 names.

He was Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire for many years and one of his favourite pictures was a photograph of himself with Princess Anne.

He was an elder in Paisley Abbey for over 40 years and was on various committees. He was highly thought of in their investment group by selling Eagle Star at the very pinnacle of their share price, but his love was for the abbey choir. His many contacts enabled him to organise the new Shaw Memorial Window designed by John Clark, that shines over the choir.

He was reminded of his own mortality in 1984 when he was a passenger in the second coach of the Edinburgh to Glasgow train. An errant cow on the line near Polmont caused 13 deaths and 61 injuries including his own.

His banking degree and general business acumen was in demand. He became chairman and honorary president of Accord Hospice, vice-chairman of the Renfrewshire Committee on Alcoholism, honorary vice president of Ferguslie Cricket Club and honorary president of Paisley Art Institute. This is an incomplete list, and he was always a hands-on person.

Organised youth enthralled him. He was president of the Paisley Battalion of the Boys Brigade, honorary president of the Sea Cadets and also involved with the Air Cadets.

He was a committee member of the Kibble School, also Scotland’s Garden Scheme. He was a Fellow of the University of the West of Scotland and chairman of the Peter Brough Fund related to it.

He was honoured by being made a deacon of the Incorporation of Weavers and also the Paisley Hammermen Society, although he would be first to admit his artisan skills were limited.

James was delighted to receive an OBE in 2010.

Burns came naturally to him with his good command of English. A life member of Paisley Burns Club, he even flew out to Canada to deliver an immortal memory. His speaking repertoire was wide and well leavened with humour which he delivered with aplomb. He even counted the Oxford Union amongst his recipients.

The measurement of Jim Wardrop, however, depended on more than speechifying. He understood people of whatever strata in society and conversed with them easily. This often included some humorous stories to relate from his large repertoire.

The favourite tipple was port but he also enjoyed whisky. Once my wife had a difficult job in explaining to his mother, reasons for him to stay over that had nothing to do with the lengthy session of tastings we had after a meal.

In 2017 he was given the Paisley Provost’s Distinction Certificate for his support in Renfrewshire. He had been called Mr Paisley and now with some justification.

In recent years illness badly affected him. Two years ago the pair of us laughed at our antics with our supporting sticks when out at a bistro lunch in Gourock.

Paisley’s response to his death was a full congregation on a Saturday morning in Paisley Abbey with a wake following at Glynhill which he would have relished, however by then his spirit was spent. He went to meet his Maker taking his bible with him in the style of a Pharaoh preparing for the afterlife.