Michael Sowden, a former Michelin executive in Dundee who went on to play a key role in community life in Arbroath, has died aged 75.
He was a past president of Arbroath Rotary Club, served as clerk to Arbroath Guildry, and was one of the drivers behind the move to turn Arbroath’s disused courthouse into an exhibition and learning space.
During his time as head of personnel at Michelin’s Dundee factory, Michael served on many outside bodies including Dundee and Tayside Chamber of Commerce.
He was on the national panel for the Scottish Investors in People Awards and chairman of Grove Academy PTA.
One of his other roles outside work was to encourage employers to recruit and retain members of the reserve forces.
In the 1990s, following the Balkans conflicts, he was one of a group of employers from Scotland who travelled to Kosovo to see how reserve forces were being deployed.
Michael Maurice Sowden was born in Bradford in 1946 and educated at St Martin’s Church of England School.
He undertook an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering and gained qualifications from Huddersfield College.
After a spell as a draughtsman, Michael joined Michelin as an engineering technician in 1968 before becoming an engineer, engineering training manager, then head of engineering at Stoke in 1976.
He then spent 10 years as engineering personnel manager at Stoke, three years as head of pay and conditions and, in 1988, Michael was appointed head of personnel at Michelin in Dundee. He retired in 2002.
Michael and Anne, met in 1992 and married a year later.
Move to Arbroath
The couple relocated from Broughty Ferry to Arbroath in 2004 and Michael immersed himself in community activity.
He became treasurer of St Mary the Virgin Church, Arbroath, joined Arbroath Rotary, served as secretary, vice-president, president-elect and then president.
During his time with the club, £6,800 was raised to provide defibrillators which were placed in locations around the town.
In 2010 Michael was appointed clerk to Arbroath Guildry and, in 2013 he became a member of Arbroath Courthouse Community Trust which is aiming to raised £2 million to redevelop the High Street building.