A well-respected champion of the metalforming machinery sector, Charles Ian Ridgway has died aged 87. Mr Ridgway, who went by his middle name of Ian, was chairman of Group Rhodes, a company he grew from the management buy-out of Joseph Rhodes Limited in 1984.
He was a passionate advocate of metalforming technologies, and for many years a very active member of the British Power Press Manufacturers Association, of which his company, Joseph Rhodes had been one of the founding members in 1947.
In 1974 he became the association’s chairman, holding the post for six years. During this time the association opened its doors to European companies associated with metalforming press manufacture, and changed its name to the Metalforming Machinery Makers Association (MMMA).
On the international stage, Mr Ridgway became chair of the European Power Press Manufacturing Panel, hosting meetings in no fewer than nine countries in a drive to establish a European standard for the sector. This work formed the basis of the CE mark developed for mechanical and hydraulic presses and press brakes.
In the late 1980s Group Rhodes represented the UK on the working group that set the subsequent Annex 4 regulations of the Machinery Directive. In 1989 Mr Ridgway was successful in lobbying the Minister of State for Trade, Lord Trefgarne (later president of the Institution of Incorporated Engineers) to establish a UK regulatory body to assess companies to the new standard.
In recognition of Mr Ridgway’s services to the metalforming industry, the ultimate accolade that his professional association could bestow was occasioned at an Annual General Meeting lunch in Birmingham in 2011 at which he was invited to become the Life President of the MMMA.
Speaking about his father, the company’s current CEO Mark Ridgway OBE said: “Dad enjoyed the industry in which he worked, but he was also very much a family man, very generous, loving and supportive, and always encouraging his children to play to our strengths.
“He was also a man of great conviction who believed in his own abilities and had great focus and attention to detail. He tried to instil that same confidence in others and was a great mentor and guide to colleagues past and present."
He is survived by his wife of 60 years Heather, children Mark and Jacqui, three grandchildren and one great granddaughter. The funeral will take place at Wakefield Cathedral on 29th July at 11am.