TRIBUTES have been paid to a Grange man who was the driving force behind the transformation of a small Kendal firm into a successful multi-national company.

Alan Forsyth, who has died at the age of 91, took over Furmanite when it was a small family business and developed it into a global concern, but in addition to a successful business career, he was also an accomplished writer and painter and a hugely respected figure in the South Lakeland area.

Born on the Wirral, Mr Forsyth began an engineering apprenticeship at Cammell Laird before joining the Army and seeing active service in Palestine, Egypt and Jordan.

On his return to the UK, he studied at Liverpool School of Art where he met his wife Jennifer before joining Vickers Armstrong where he designed aircraft manuals for fighter planes.

In 1966, he and his father–in-law took over the small family business of Furmanite. Originally based at Dockray Hall, the company moved to Shap Road and rapidly expanded into a worldwide engineering operation which today operates as TEAM Industrial Services.

When Mr Forsyth retired, he became the inspirational chairman behind Furness Enterprise, which sought to create new opportunities in the region following the loss of many jobs at major employers.

But during his busy career, he always found time for many other interests including maritime history, motor racing and his hobbies of painting, illustrating and writing, where he also proved very talented.

His poetry has been published and he and his wife exhibited paintings around the country and locally at Kendal Brewery Arts Centre.

Mr Forsyth, who was awarded the OBE in 1981, lived at Cartmel Fell for many years and later moved into Grange where he became well known for posting up poems, some written by himself and some by others, on the gatepost of his house opposite the station.

The Mayor of Grange-over-Sands Cllr Peter Endsor said Mr Forsyth was a much-loved figure in the town.

“He was very well respected and well loved and the poems he posted up were a wonderful feature in the town,” he said.

“On behalf of the town council I’d like to offer my condolences to his family.”

He leaves four children, nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. A private family funeral took place last week.