ONE of the biggest and best known figures in shipbuilding Sir Eric Yarrow has died.

The Kilmacolm man, who was the last member of his family to head the Clyde shipyard Yarrow's, passed away aged 98.

He is remembered fondly in his local community by his friends and by the local charities he supported generously.

In his younger years Sir Eric fought in the Second World War, rose to the rank of Major and was awarded an MBE for his outstanding service in the Far East.

Back home he succeeded his father Harold as the chairman of the family business, navigating the firm through some turbulent times.

Sir Eric went on to hold many esteemed roles both locally and nationally and was a loyal Morton fan.

Lord Lieutenant Guy Clark, who knew Sir Eric for 45 years, said: "Sir Eric was so well respected and greatly thought of.

"He was a great support to me.

"I knew him socially for 45 years, he was great company.

"He loved loving in Kilmacolm and lived in the beautiful Cloak."

Sir Eric, who served as a depute lord lieutenant for a time, was best known for his 37 years at the helm of Yarrow's, which was founded by his grandfather Albert in 1865.

During this time he oversaw huge changes with the demise of the Royal Navy and the fall in demand for warships.

He fought almost for his entire time as chairman to stop the nationalisation of Yarrow's.

He eventually lost and in 1977 it was taken under government control as part of British Shipbuilding.

In 1985, after fighting for more compensation for Yarrow's 100-odd shareholders, he eventually relinquished his family's 120 year connection in 1985 when he retired.

He went on to be chairman of the Clydesdale Bank and was involved in its takeover by National Australia Bank

Sir Eric played a vital role in public life including as chairman of the Erskine Hospital, where he personally fundraised, and as president of the Burma Star Association among other organisations.

A keen sportsman, he was a past captain of Kilmacolm Golf Club and a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

Eric Yarrow also gave generously in his later years to causes locally including Children in Poverty.

He was educated at Marlborough College, studied engineering at Glasgow University and went onto serve his apprenticeship with Weirs in Cathcart.

When war broke out he joined the Royal Engineers and was sent to the Far East to join the Burma campaign.

During this time he is remembered for holding the line for retreating allies, blowing up bridges as the last man crossed and just as the Japanese arrived.

He was also responsible for sinking river craft, some of which had been built by Yarrow's.

Sir Eric, who was married three times, lived in Kilmacolm with his wife Joan.

He was devoted to his family including his four sons.

He lost his first wife Rosemary and his eldest son Richard who died.

Sir Eric loved his nine grandchildren and was also a devoted stepfather and grandfather to Joan's family.