Conservative Party stalwart

Born: September 7, 1947;

Died: February 8, 2020.

RICHARD Wilkinson, who has died at the age of 72, was a former Strathclyde regional councillor who twice stood for Parliament, and was a well-known figure in Conservative Party circles.

In his time he was a Conservative councillor and a national executive member. Ten years ago he established a permanent office in Ardrossan for the Conservative Association in the North Ayrshire and Arran constituency; at his death he was not only the constituency chairman but also the party’s Scottish Conference Convener, in which category he had been organising the North Ayrshire AGM.

His funeral was attended by Conservative politicians including Jackson Carlaw, North Ayrshire’s Labour Provost, Ian Clarkson, and dignitaries from Andernos-les-Bains in France, the twin town of Largs.

Richard Wilkinson was born in Irvine. As a young man he worked for the civil service in Glasgow, London and Edinburgh and became a senior manager with Lothian Health Board before long service with the Hansel Alliance, an organisation working with adults with disabilities.

However, such was his association with the Conservative Party that he proposed to Anne, the woman who would become his wife, after they had been canvassing during an election. In 1978, shortly after they married, he was elected as a Strathclyde regional councillor for the Largs area, including Arran.

The couple set up home in Seamill and had two children, Victoria and Miles. The family lived at The Fort, an imposing house that overlooks the Clyde, and where they hosted many people, including government ministers.

When he stood down from the former Strathclyde region he was, selected as Cunninghame District councillor for Largs North and Skelmorlie in 1992, and then, in 1996, for Largs South and Fairlie. He retired in 2007.

He continued as a Party office-bearer. The Wilkinsons were also regular attenders at the national Tory Party conferences and were guests at 10 Downing Street. It was said that General Election nights were like cup final nights for the family.

They turned their love of France into an organised activity by forming Largs Town Twinning Association, lining up with Andernos-les-Bains in south-west France. Richard served as chairman for over a decade. His keen interest in steam trains and trainspotting led to him being appointed to the Scottish Rail Users’ organisation.

West of Scotland Conservative MSP Jamie Greene said: “Richard worked tirelessly in the local community, not just in politics but in many other ways. He was well respected by those of all political persuasions and those of none, and will be missed by the local association. It is a sad loss, no least personally, as he supported me patiently and enthusiastically these past five years.Behind the theatre of politics, every party has hard working folk who work their whole lives for their beliefs.”

Councillor Tom Marshall, Conservative group leader on North Ayrshire Council said: “One of his proudest moments was at the last local election when seven Conservative councillors were elected. It was in no small part due to him”.