I am heading back to Northumberland today. Sadly it's for a funeral of a good friend and a great man, Dr Alan Reece. Alan was one of the North East's most successful businessmen. Alan was the man behind the engineering business, The Reece Group, which has a turnover in excess of £211m and more than 450 employees. I was lucky enough in 2011 to go round his business, Pearson Engineering in Walker, which develops combat engineer systems and de-mining equipment for the US Army, along with my dad, who is a far better engineer than I ever will be. It was a fascinating day in a truly transformative company.
Alan, was named by the Sunday Times in 2011 as the third biggest philanthropist in the UK; he gave generously to chairities and educational institutions. He supported the Wylam Post Office and the Calvert Trust amongst many local causes. He worked with me on a number of projects, especially on getting Britian to make more from the manufacturing sector. Alan leaves behind three children and his wonderful partner Margaret. He was an avid cyclist, a man of tremendous wit and sense of humour and a man totally without any side or pretence.
He will be sorely missed, but I consider it a privilege to have known him.