Clifford Champion, president of AW Champion Ltd, died peacefully on January 15.

Clifford Champion spent almost his entire working life in the timber industry and family firm. The son of AW Champion’s founder Arthur Champion, he joined the firm in the early 1950s – a difficult time for the company with its New Malden headquarters still feeling the effects of being bombed, and timber control. His sales and entrepreneurial skills came to the rescue by founding Clifford Partitioning in 1956. The new company quickly became AW Champion’s best customer and was highly instrumental in turning the family business around.

When his father retired in 1962 Clifford took over as managing director. Whilst AW Champion grew in strength, he relished the challenge of taking on ambitious and technically difficult construction projects that had high timber content. Amongst other projects was the cycle track for the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh which was highly praised by the competitors.

In 1978, Clifford acquired a large storage and distribution site in Edenbridge, Kent, to which he added one of the most advanced and highly automated sawmills in the country. By 1980 he had also cemented strong links with renowned Swedish producers Siljan and this relationship enabled fortnightly deliveries of carefully graded timber direct to the company’s new mill.

AW Champion thus became the first choice for many customers in the south-east who were looking for ample supplies of high quality, kiln-dried, well-machined sections at competitive prices. This successful formula soon led to the acquisition of more yards, building to the nine that AW Champion currently operates. In 1991, his son Philip took over as managing director and Clifford initially became chairman and then president. The firm continues to enjoy its independence with a vast timber product range for the building trade.

Throughout his career, Clifford was a staunch supporter of the Timber Trade Federation and in 1994 became its president. In 2004 he was given the Timber Trade Federation’s Lifetime Achievement Award of which he was immensely proud.

Clifford Champion formally retired from AW Champion in 2001 to pursue his many other interests which included equestrian sports, especially dressage, history, the City Livery companies (he served as prime warden of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths), charitable works including the RNLI and sailing his beloved Shrimper.

Those wishing to mark Clifford’s passing are cordially invited to a memorial service at 12 noon on March 8 at St James Garlickhythe, Garlick Hill, London EC4V 2AL. After the service please join the family at the Painters and Stainers Livery Hall, Little Trinity Lane, London EC4V 2AD.