Alan Bottomley

Alan Bottomley, who has died at the age of 81, was hailed as one of the finest Yorkshire lawyers of his generation and was the co-founder of Harrogate International Music Festival.

Alan Bottomley

Born in Ilkley, he came from a Bradford legal family. His father George and his grandfather were partners in the solicitors’ firm Gaunt, Fosters and Bottomley. Educated at Gyhll Royd School in Ilkley and then Shrewsbury, he joined the firm after completing his National Service.

In 1976 the firm merged with Bradford solicitors AV Hammond. In turn, the company became Hammond Suddards and then Squire Saunders. His peers believe that Alan’s vision, drive and commitment ensured that, during his career, Hammonds Suddards became one of the most respected law firms in the north of England.

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At the time of the merger, AV Hammond had one office in Bradford with 56 staff. By the time Alan retired as senior partner in 1996, Hammond Suddards had a staff of over 1,500 with offices in Leeds, Manchester, London and Brussels.

The firm had transformed itself from a well-regarded local jack-of-all trades firm into one of the top commercial lawyers in the UK, dealing primarily with public company clients.

In the late 1970s, Mr Bottomley began to focus on large Yorkshire companies who had their decision-makers in Yorkshire but who used London lawyers as a matter of habit.

He managed to attract more than 30 such companies and had a reputation for giving high quality commercial advice which his clients could understand.

He also made big changes in the firm internally, bringing in systems to make the firm more efficient and accountable. He recruited good young lawyers and took an interest in all sections of the practice.

Colleagues say they cannot recall an important decision which he got wrong. He allowed his younger partners to express their views but always led from the front.

His main interest outside the law was music.

In 1962 he more or less single-handedly set up the Frederick Delius Centenary Festival in Bradford.

He was subsequently a co-founder of the Harrogate International Music Festival with Tony Kent and Clive Wilson.

The festival is now 48 years old and has put Harrogate on the world cultural map, as well as benefitting the local economy by an estimated £8.2m last year alone. He was also involved in many other organisations, including the Leeds Playhouse, the Leeds International Piano competition and the Arts Council.

He was an enthusiastic member of the Territorial Army, joining the 269 Field Regiment in Bradford in 1952. He ended up as the major in charge of the Ilkley battery. He was also a leading member of both the Bradford Law Society and the Bradford Club.

His first marriage was to Sue Werner, who pre-deceased him. He later married Maureen Procter, the widow of his great friend Nicky Procter.