TRIBUTES have been paid to the chief executive of Fife Chamber of Commerce who passed away last week.
Alan Russell died on January 31 after a short illness and his funeral is to be held on Tuesday, February 12 at Kirkcaldy Crematorium at 3.00 p.m.
He took over the leadership of the chamber in 2006, at which point it was an organisation in financial difficulty with a declining membership and reduced representational role.
A statement issued by the chamber said: “It is to his enormous credit that he restored the chamber to a sound financial footing while successfully establishing an excellent support team whose emphasis is on providing service to members, reversing its decline in membership and broadening its influence with policy makers and politicians.
“Particular mention should be made of Alan’s leading role in the successful campaign for the Forth Replacement Crossing where he was able to bring together opposing factions.
“But Alan should be remembered not simply for his contribution to Fife Chamber, but for his commitment and passion for business generally and in Fife in particular.
“This conviction led him on occasion into conflict with his previous employer, but always in the belief that government’s role was as an enabler to allow business to prosper.
“Fife Chamber and business in Fife has lost a champion and the directors and staff a valued colleague.”
Born in Uddingston and brought up in Lanarkshire, Mr Russell left Hamilton Academy in 1968 and worked as a production engineer with Honeywell in the early 1970s and later as an industrial engineer and designer with the Sunbeam Corporation in East Kilbride, which preceded his switch into management services with Strathclyde Regional Council in the mid 1970s.
In 1981, Mr Russell moved into business development when he was appointed manager of the Strathclyde Employment Grants Scheme.
He was employed in the public sector for over 22 years, focusing on economic and business development, and this eventually led him to secure the post of economic development manager with Fife Council - a position he left in May, 2004.
Mr Russell was chairman of Fife Export Club from 1990 - when he moved to the Kingdom with his family - to 1996 and was a member of the UK Export Club’s advisory committee to the British Overseas Trade Board during this time.
He was married to Anne for over 30 years and they have two grown-up children, Fraser and Alison, and a grandson Dylan.
THOSE who knew Mr Russell spoke highly of his quality and professionalism.
John Kilgour, Fife Group President, Fife Chamber said: “I have built up an enormous respect for Alan Russell who was one of those people who just got on with the job with great efficiency and attention to every detail.
“He was brilliant at building and motivating the excellent Fife Chamber team.
“Alan’s passion for the Chamber and for promoting Fife will be long remembered by the many people who came into contact with him.”
Duncan Dewar, who was president of Fife Chamber from 2006-2008, said: “Alan Russell was a great asset to Fife Chamber of Commerce.
“When I was president I could count on Alan’s professionalism.
“He helped build much needed bridges with politicians and the local authority.
“Fife Chamber of Commerce has lost a great chief executive and I have also lost a friend.
“Alan will be sadly missed.”
David Torrance, Kirkcaldy MSP, said: “Alan Russell was well respected by the business community throughout Fife and everybody who met him.
“He did an excellent job for Fife Chamber of Commerce and always had the interests of Fife businesses at heart. He will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Bill Harvey, BID manager at Kirkcaldy4All said: “I was really saddened to hear the terrible news.
“I got on well with Alan, we were always speaking on the phone.
“He is a great loss to the Fife business community.”