WHEN Gavin West, who has died aged 47, was appointed manager of the Castleford branch of the Swedish-owned Handelsbanken, it was probably his proudest achievement.
For family and friends, there was a brief highlight when, as a 17-year old, he appeared on the front page of the national press kissing the hand of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was visiting Grimsby to open the new hospital there.
Mr West, the elder of two boys, was born in Louth, Lincolnshire, and brought up in the small rural village of North Cotes.
David West, the boys’ father, ran a small plant hire company while their mother, Valerie, was company secretary for a local pig farmer.
After primary school, the couple’s elder boy went John Birkbeck Secondary School and from there to King Edward VI Grammar School in Louth.
At school, he enjoyed French so much that he kept it up after he left, remaining in touch for some years with a French correspondent.
Athletic and sporting, Mr West belonged to a local gym club and enjoyed running, skiing and football.
He was a loyal supporter of Grimsby Town FC, having been taken to watch the team by his parents from the age of about four. He still held a season ticket for the Mariners at the date of his death, despite the fact that they had dropped out of the Football League.
He had a love of motor sport, in particular Formula 1, and in recent years attended the British Grand Prix and the Belgian Grand Prix.
The Tour de France was another powerful draw, so much so that for the last five years, he and his wife went to Paris for the final day.
When he took up golf, he joined Silkstone Golf Club.
He and Joanne Dickinson met through mutual friends in a Grimsby pub and were married in 1992 at St Nicholas Church, North Cotes, the very church he was christened in and where his parents and grandparents were also married.
At his request, his funeral was held there.
After leaving school, he joined the management development scheme at Yorkshire Bank in Bethlehem Street, Grimsby.
He studied for his banking qualifications and became an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (ACIB) in 1991. He then became a supervisor at the Cleethorpe Road, Grimsby Branch of Yorkshire Bank.
In 1993 he moved to the company’s Barnsley branch as a manager’s assistant. He followed this with a spell at Yorkshire Bank’s training centre in Leeds, teaching credit assessment.
After Yorkshire Bank was taken over by National Australia Bank (NAB), he took the opportunity to work in Ireland and Northern Ireland, Northern Bank and National Irish Bank being part of the NAB Group.
Returning to Yorkshire, he worked in the bank’s asset structuring department, and being promoted, became corporate manager of the Rotherham branch, working out of the Sheffield Business Centre.
In 2006, he began working for RBS as a corporate manager in Leeds, and two years later, he was approached by Handelsbanken with a view to becoming that bank’s corporate manager for its branch in Wellington Street, Leeds.
In March this year he was made branch manager for Handelsbanken, Castleford.
Mr West was able to indulge his enjoyment of travel by visiting many parts of the world, but his favourite destination was Florida, almost a second home.
Joie de vivre, a positive outlook and sense of humour were the most pronounced characteristics of this sociable man, and poignantly, they carried him through the shocking diagnosis of leukaemia and the subsequent treatment for it.
He is survived by his wife Joanne, his parents David and Valerie, and his brother Simon.